The market for large-format flatbed scanners is shrinking, so products turn over slowly and development is far behind my expectations. That said, the Epson GT-1500 doesn’t look like a bad choice for tight budgets. It has a relatively low maximum resolution of only 600DPI, but has the highest claimed scan speed of 30 seconds at 300DPI. Following that is the Microtek ScanMaker 9800XL, which has a much higher maximum resolution, but much slower scan speed (even at the same resolution as the Epson). The scanner sets itself apart, however, with noise-reduction technology that has made it the darling of some art archivists.
Both of these scanners are around $1,200, but neither of them is really suited to doing much volume.
Looking elsewhere, I found the Konica Minolta PS5000C, a planetary book scanner that returns scans in less than 10 seconds. Price is under $12,000 — not cheap, but low relative to other planetary scanners I’ve seen. Also from Konica MInolta is the MS6000 MK II microform scanner, and a lusty thought crosses my mind: get rid of the old microform printers our libraries have and go all-digital.