Scan A Book That You Don't Want To Keep - A Clever DIY Solution

Scan A Book That You Don’t Want To Keep – A Clever DIY Solution

The fun thing about scanning paper books is that everyone has their own way to do scan a book. Some people set up cheap DIY book scanning setups, some invest in a special ScanSnap SV600, and a whole community has sprung up around book scanning.

Awesome DocumentSnap reader Samuel in Sweden sent me a video with his solution involving a stove (!) and a pretty clever little tool me made. He then scans with his ScanSnap iX500.

Obviously this won’t work if you want to hang on to the book after so it won’t be for everyone, but it works well for Samuel.

Do you have a different way you scan your paper books? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 12 comments

Christopher Walker - August 22, 2016 Reply

Check-out this guy’s method involving a Black & Decker Workmate and circular saw:

    Hobert Kibbee - August 31, 2016 Reply

    Stop when things get important. What use is scanning if you don’t remember or understand the most important parts of the book? Give yourself leeway to stop when things get interesting. Really try to ingest these important parts of the book. They’ll be the waypoints along your journey that you stop at.

Judi Radice Hays - August 22, 2016 Reply

I’m going to try 1dollarscan. I’ve authored a series of 12 coffee table books (242 pages each) that are no longer in print. I’d like to have them available online and this sounds like an awesome way to do it at a reasonable cost. It would take me days to do what 1dollarscan can do much more efficiently. Thanks so much for the article and the tips!

Michael Bube - August 17, 2016 Reply

Question: what do you do after you have them scanned? I would like an experience of showing a “real” book online with turning pages. It’s for school yearbooks. I could just put them together into pdf files, but I like the look of other sites where they post yearbooks, such as this:


    Paulette Pierce - August 18, 2016 Reply

    I use to create flip books out of PDF files. There is a free basic account, which I used:

    Hope this helps!

      Michael Bube - August 23, 2016 Reply

      Thank you. It’s very helpful and might provide a place to store the yearbooks for alumni to peruse.

    SAMUEL - August 27, 2016 Reply

    I scan them directly to dropbox and I have the scanner set so I have to rename the file to its proper name when Im done scanning.
    It is then automatically added to my calibre library where I keep all my books.

    On my ipad and Iphone I simply open the dropbox file and export it to Ibooks so no need for calibre export.

    Quick reply to scanning services suggestions:
    ABSOLUTELY agree..the best way to cut the edge of the books- I agree. – onedollerscanning – probably superb ……….but……….. I do not have that service in my town in Sweden.

    So in my minimalist quest I scan a book or two while I brew my coffe in the morning and now 2 months later I have thrown away 4 bookshelves of books.

    No I do not want to buy a paper cuttter machine – Yet another thing to keep in the house 🙁

Bill - August 17, 2016 Reply

Digitizing your personal library.
A Thaumaturgical Compendium
The New University Press
By ALEX | Published: 6/16/2010

Marin County, CA – USA

John - August 17, 2016 Reply

Sharp knife (often called a “Stanley knife” in the UK) +
Craft ruler (it has an M shaped profile – so somewhere safe for fingers)

Cut along near to the spine – but missing glue etc.

I think I cut & scanned the 250 page book into an authoring tool in under an hour

Paddy - August 3, 2016 Reply

Re. scanning paper books: I go to the local bookbinder and for the price of a tip in his tip jar (yes, he has one !) he chops off the spine of my book with his hydraulic guillotine and hands me back the loose pages. Total work time including aligning etc. 2 minutes. Result: pages all the same size, paper edges razor sharp, no paper dust or glue residues, ready to be dropped into my Fujitsu ix500.

Martin - August 3, 2016 Reply

Co-incidentally, I had to scan a book today – in fact an old bound science notebook, but with the same glue-type binding. I simply took it into a local printing/copying/binding shop found almost everywhere, and they put it into a guillotine-type machine and chopped off the spine and binding. It left a pile of detached pages with a razor-clean edge cut, which I easily scanned with my iX500. He charged me 2GBP, I think mostly because he had to stop what he was doing while I waited, but it was worth it to save the time and effort of cutting pages up manually.

Another tip: a lot of people seem to be getting rid of their flatbed scanners, presumably because they have seen the light and bought a ScanSnap! I picked up a PlusTek model specifically made for book scanning for 10GBP at a thrift store; lots of them are on eBay too. I rarely use it, but it works fine for scanning in a few book pages or a thick cover.

JF, London England.

Eric - July 19, 2016 Reply

Hi Brooks,
I found another much easier way. I use – they are a service that takes your books, magazines and even loose paper and provides clean PDF files for download. The resultant “full res” can be large, so they offer optimizing algorithms for different mobile devices. In less than the time it takes me to do it myself, I can drop a bunch of books and magazines in a box and they take care of it for me. At their cheapest ($99/mo), you get up to 100 100-page blocks. Quality has been great!

The only thing I am doing myself now are a pile of specialty mags that are 20-40 pages- easier to do myself since the smallest “block” is 100 pages.

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