BOOK NERD :: The Book of Forbidden Knowledge – free ebook on, + process notes

I uploaded my first contribution to today. A reader of my site from Germany asked if I had copies of “The Book of Forbidden Knowledge”, I assume after seeing it listed on the page with cover scans (actually photos) of various Johnson smith & Company booklets I have collected over the years.

I told her I’d scan my copy and send a PDF, but since I’d been finding so much incredible stuff on lately I decided to upload it there so that everyone could have a digital copy if they wanted.

I figured I’d roughly outline my process with a few images:

I scan ever page individually at 400dpi in 24bit color. I have scanned them 2-up before, but the time saved at the scanner is lost in separating the images of the two pages in editing. For ease I just flip the book upside down ever other page so that I lay it on the platen in the same spot every time:

This means that every other page is upside down, but not a problem. I set the scanning area to be a bit larger than needed, so that if I don’t place it exactly in the same spot, I don’t end up cutting off something I need.

Once I have the scans, I import them all into photoshop and use the cropping tool to get the bulk of the text block with a little extra. You can rotate the area you crop to help straighten it out. From there I just click Image>Image Rotation>180 and it’s right side up.

I save each page with the correct page number, the above being ForbiddenKnowledge-pg01.tif, and the covers will get a -C1 for front, -C2 inside front, -C3 inside back, -C4 back.

I then open one image and create a Photoshop Action that strips the yellow paper color from the page (Image>Adjustments>Replace Color) and then use the curves to give the page a crisp dark black and white (Image>Adjustments>Curves) and finally convert to Grayscale. I close that image without saving and then use the Batch command with the new Action to zip through the directory of interior page images.

After this is done, I put them all into an InDesign file and exported to a PDF without compressing the images. I uploaded that PDF to and it had automagically processed it before I was able to finish writing this blog, allowing me to put the following inline:

I started scanning this 36 page booklet at 11:20 this morning and posted the blog at about 1:20pm.

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  • London

    Oh, boy, what a treat! Thank you, sir! Please tell me you are doing Secrets of Black Magic someday!

    • Kevin I. Slaughter

      I probably will at some point. I enjoy making old, obscure and forgotten things available again. I sell it sometimes and make it available for free other times, depending on what it is. I’m working on a number of projects now I hope will at least turn a dollar or two… I’ve spent two days yet scanning and working in photoshop on one, and a week on another.

      If anyone is inclined, they can make a “thank you” donation at, though a comment like the above is appreciated as well.