Google Books: Ratio of Inked Space to Blank Space


How could we create a proxy measure for the relative luxury of a book, and by extension the social prestige of its contents? One way of getting at this might be to measure the ratio of inked to non-inked space for a given work. While the measure is flawed  — verse uses less page space, illustrations may sometimes apply more ink across the page — it is at least a starting point. What if Google Books were to publish the ratio of inked to non-inked space for all of the items it has scanned? We could then see how writing of different types, for example, plays or prose fiction, move into larger print formats such as the Folio.

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One Comment

  1. Arno Bosse
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    You might try doing this with (assuming page images in hand) a tool like ImagePlot ( that can get a measure of a page’s brightness or saturation (median and stdev).

    I’ve played around a little with various ImagePlot macros and a selection of 15th-19th C. page scans for tasks like this though with mixed results. I was thinking for example of identifying pages with illustrations or pages with scripts in a certain language. The general idea was to think about using this data to enhance the item’s metadata or to start developing a graph showing changes in page size, number of woodblocks and the l ike over time.

    If you do follow this up I’d actually recommend just copying the macros over into Fiji ( which is a better maintained and friendlier distribution of ImageJ on which ImagePlot is based.

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