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This project contains the code for a proof of concept project developed for and around a Hack Day conducted at the New York Public Library on Jan 14, 2015. The POC is intended to explore one possible solution for the problem of using digitized texts on small form devices such as smartphones. For this POC we targeted the JSTOR public domain content ( hosted by the Internet Archive ( While the JSTOR PD content was used as the source data in this POC the scope of problem is much broader in that many 10's (or even 100's) of millions of documents are only available as PDFs of scanned page images.

Page scan PDFs provide a great means for distributing documents for printing and off-line reading. Using them for on-line reading is cumbersome on devices other than desktops, laptops and larger tablets. This POC is specifically targeting the feasibility of reformatting these PDFs for use with smartphones and smaller e-readers. This project includes scripts for reflowing an original PDF into a mobile-optimized PDF and then extracting the resulting pages into individual image files suitable for viewing on mobile devices in both web and native apps.

** Original demo The original demo of this POC can be seen at This is best viewed from a smartphone (which is the whole point of this, right?) The POC consisted of a simple web app (using Django and JQuery Mobile) for viewing the original and reflowed pages for a handful of articles. The app supports toggling between the original and mobile views. The PDF reflowing is performed by the open source tool ‘k2pdfopt’ ( This POC includes a wrapper script (in python) that fetches an original PDF from the Internet Archive and invokes k2pdfopt and imagemagick to perform the PDF reflowing and image extraction. The wrapper also provides some conveniences for syncing the generated output with an AWS S3 data store for use by web applications. The wrapper script also includes some initial support for defining and managing configuration profiles for optimizing generated content for specific devices or classes of device.

Restructured code base

Since the original POC was developed the code has been refactored to achieve a cleaner separation between the conversion and viewing. The conversion process is now implemented as a web service that accepts as input a URL to a PDF and returns a JSON object with links to the generated PDF and extracted image files (for both the original and mobile-optimized PDFs).


AWS Lambda


Angular JS

GitHub Pages


Reflow scanned page images for improved readability on mobile devices.



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