9 ways of Scanning a Book to PDF from Free to Pro

You normally look at your shelf and get overwhelmed by the fact that you have so many books to read. But some end up being so bulky that it is hard to even hold them in your hands and read, or at least not very comfortable to do so.

This is the very reason for you to have searched for different ways to scan a book to pdf. There is one more thing that you need to know. Once your convert to PDF there are many easier ways to convert the PDF to your format of choice.

Be it for Kindle or an iPad or any other device. There are multiple formats that support multiple devices and make it easier to refer to, read or study your books without straining your eyes.

General Scanners that we use

Epson V39 (The best budget scanner)Check out Scanner
Epson V600 (You can scan Negatives and Sides)Check out Scanner
Kodak Film and Slide Scanner (for fast film scanning)Check out Scanner
Epson V800 (The best production scanner that we have been using)Check out Scanner
Plustek fast photo scannerCheck out Scanner

How would you scan them and convert these books to PDF?

It’s pretty simple. You need to have a standard scanner or at least a phone to capture the pages from the book. You need to have an app like Scantailor to enhance the pages and an app like PDFill to convert these enhanced pages to a PDF.

Let us see this whole process in 9 different ways in this article. Hope you will find yours among these.

Each and every way that we have mentioned below in the article will consist of 4 steps.

  1. Prepare
  2. Scan
  3. Enhance
  4. Convert

The third and fourth will mostly be uniform across different ways. But the first two changes. Preparing the books and scanning will depend on the scanner that we will be using.

1. Simple Way

To begin with, we will check out the simplest way. By simple, we mean the least required already owned types of equipment, along with free apps or software.

What is it that every one of us already possesses and that which can capture images? Yes, it is our own mobile phone. Assuming that most of us will have a phone with a decent camera, we will go ahead in this way and find out what are these apps, which can help us achieve this.

Using a monopod will give us better results. Take your monopod and arrange the mobile phone in such a way that the camera faces down. This is just to make sure that it can capture the book that is kept underneath.

You can check out the arrangement in the above photo. The monopod will be standing above the book. The book will be opened and if required we can use a glass to hold the book from closing.

You should adjust lighting based on your camera requirement.

While we have our mobile on the monopod facing down, we will keep alternating the process of turning the pages and clicking the camera. Make sure that you will be capturing both sides of the book. We will find later in this article how to split them.

Once you capture, we recommend transferring all the images making sure that you have not missed any pages, to a computer.

For the app or software, there is a free software called Scantailor. You can read a detailed article on it here.

The second step is when the software splits the two pages. You wonder how easy the process is of converting an odd set of pages to professionally-looking pages.

Once you have the enhanced images with you in the out directory, use a free tool called PDFill to add these pages and convert them to a PDF. You can read more about how to do this in this article.

Now you have a PDF without spending a buck. That is the reason why we call it the simple way.

2. DIY Way

This is a slightly better way in the sense that you will be spending a few bucks to get better results than the previous one.

If you have your own cameras you will be saving a few bucks.

To give you an idea before I start explaining what it looks like, please have a look at the image below.


Materials required to build:

2 Cameras
2 Stands as in the image
1 Led Light
1 V-Cradled glass

Building this is very easy, once you have the stand that is placed on either side of the scanners, holding the cameras.

A V-Cradle is placed on the stands too. While the cameras will be facing up, we will place the book on the top of the V-Cradle, as opposed to the normal way.

That will be it. Figure out a way to click the camera buttons from somewhere near, along with positioning the light in the right place.

Even pages will be stored in one camera while the odd pages are on the other. You need to merge them by renaming using the bulk renaming utility that is available.

Create the PDF in the same way as the previous.

No.Who needsWhat to ScanSupporting Scanners
1ArtistArtwork (Painting, Drawing, Sketch…)Check out Scanner
2PhotographerPhotos, Negatives, SlidesCheck out Scanner
3PublisherBooks, Journals, Photos, ArtworkCheck out Scanner
4Chartered AccountantDocuments and Files (IT Filing, KYC, etc.)Check out Scanner
5LibraryBarcode, QR CodeCheck out Scanner
6CorporatesEmployee RecordsCheck out Scanner
7RealtorsDeeds, AgreementsCheck out Scanner
8BanksLoans, StatementsCheck out Scanner
9UniversitiesMarks SheetsCheck out Scanner
10HospitalsPatient RecordsCheck out Scanner

3. Traditional Way

So we have already completed scanning books in two ways. The third way is probably the oldest and most conventional method. What we have to understand about this method is that it takes a long time as opposed to the other ways that we have listed here.

The conventional and traditional way that we are going to write about in this article is the flatbed way. the flatbed is a scanner that has a glass bed above which the books are placed.

These books have to be placed on the bed with pages turning towards the bed. While the book pages are on the flatbed, the page is previewed. Once you adjust the book to accommodate the complete page, you can select the page area and scan it.

This will store only that part of the complete scan area in the computer.

If the pages are larger than the scan area, you can only scan one of the pages of the book at a time and then the other.

By scanning this way, you might have alternate pages turning in opposite directions. We can easily fix this from the software that we are going to discuss further in this section.

Once you scan them, there are two challenges that you have to address in this way of scanning.

  1. Pages are together and have to be split
  2. Single pages are scanned that are turning opposite alternatingly

This is when we use our powerful free software that is Scantailor. You can make the best use of this by following the link and reading the article there.

The article even removes the gray or brown background that might be visible during the scan.

4. Destructive Way

This way is the fastest way of scanning the books and the easiest. There are a lot of document scanners that are available in the market that scan loose pages up to A4.

But wait a moment. Are we talking about loose pages? Then what about books. Yes. The only drawback of this type of scanning is that the spine of the books has to be cut open to scan them through these scanners.

When you start feeding the loose pages to the feeder of the scanner, they suck the pages in, scan using an led light, and place them on a page stack collector, hence the name Automated Document Feeder or ADF.

While scanning, they scan both the sides of the pages.

The pages that are scanned using this scanner are cropped on the go and stored in the computer that it is connected to. You can use the same set of software, a combination of Scantailor and PDFill, to enhance the pages and create a PDF out of them.

5. Bind Destructive Way

This is nothing but an extension of the previous one. Just that there is an additional step where we bind the books and protect the sanctity of the book.

There is another important aspect when it comes to binding, the arranging of the pages. While you cut open the spine of the book, you should be aware that it is Bind Destructive Scanning that you are doing.

While scanning this way, the order of the pages has to be neatly arranged post the scanning of those pages.

There are many ways of binding, it depends on what type of binding you want to go ahead with. That does not mean that you can try binding every other way. There are many challenges when it comes to professional binding while many are limited to the access of pros.

The best type of binding is gluing the pages neatly using a strong adhesive once the pages are arranged in the same order neatly.

After applying adhesive to the books, they have to be dried in a dry place so that there are no misplaced papers and no surprises later.

Don’t worry about the power of this glue, it will glue very well. You cannot even think of losing your sheets after your job is done.

6. Simple Non-Destructive

In non-destructive scanning, we don’t cut open the spine of the book. We scan them intact. There are some heritage books that people have high regard for.

Such books are to be treated this way. This is an extension of DIY book scanning. There are book scanners built for such kinds of books that are very old or where the owners don’t want to lose the original bind.

Just like the DIY book scanners, the books are placed on the V-Cradle. To make it seamless and sophisticated, the overhead cameras can be directly controlled from a computer program.

You can look through the camera from the computer using the scanners and adjust the books. Zooming in and Zooming out while capturing the pages are a part of the process.

The images captured are directly stored in the computer. Then again our standard open-source software PDFill and Scantailor come in handy to convert them to a PDF.

You can read through this article for a step-by-step guide.

No.Who needsWhat to ScanSupporting Scanners
1ArtistArtwork (Painting, Drawing, Sketch…)Check out Scanners
2PhotographerPhotos, Negatives, SlidesCheck out Scanners
3PublisherBooks, Journals, Photos, ArtworkCheck out Scanners
4Chartered AccountantDocuments and Files (IT Filing, KYC, etc.)Check out Scanners
5LibraryBarcode, QR CodeCheck out Scanners
6CorporatesEmployee RecordsCheck out Scanners
7RealtorsDeeds, AgreementsCheck out Scanners
8BanksLoans, StatementsCheck out Scanners
9UniversitiesMarks SheetsCheck out Scanners
10HospitalsPatient RecordsCheck out Scanners

7. Automatic Non-Destructive Way

The main difference between the simple non-destructive and the traditional non-destructive way is the way the scanners handle the pages.

While we have to intervene to turn the pages in a simple non-destructive way, the Automatic one, as the name itself indicates, automatically turns the pages.

Even the most delicate book will be handled well with this type of scanner. The positioning of the books is just like a simple non-destructive scanner, there will be suction from a rod that carries the cameras.

In the oscillation movement, while the rod comes down, it comes with light suction, sucks a single page, and goes up.

The cameras capture the two pages, and the rod comes back going to the next page. This constantly happens till the whole book is completed.

8. Overhead Way

This is a simplified version of the non-destructive scanner. This is not expensive and is available across the globe.

There will be a single overhead camera that captures both sides of the book. Instead of a V-Cradle, the books are spread across a horizontal black sheet.

In this way, you don’t need to worry about the curvature, as they come with software programs that can fix this on the go.

All you need to do is place them on the black sheet, if you want, stop the pages from getting closed by placing a finger on them.

The overhead camera will capture the whole thing, while the program crops it to the book, splits the pages, removes the fingers, and enhances the pages.

This is the cheapest non-destructive overhead scanner available in the market that works decently.

General Scanners that we recommend

Epson V39 (The best budget scanner)Check out Scanner
Epson V600 (You can scan Negatives and Sides)Check out Scanner
Kodak Film and Slide Scanner (for fast film scanning)Check out Scanner
Epson V800 (The best production scanner that we have been using)Check out Scanner
Plustek fast photo scannerCheck out Scanner

9. Fast Non-Destructive Way

This is the best scanner ever, especially when it comes to scanning books. This is a super-fast non-destructive scanner that no scanner can match.

Well, first things first, it works on video mode. A powerful camera will be hanging from a rod that captures the books turning on video mode.

While capturing, on the go, the software program connected to this records the frames captured as video and decides which one is the best one to be processed.

The Artificial Intelligence of the program picks up the best image of the page that can be further modified and enhanced.

Once it selects and enhances the pages, those pages will be ready to be converted to PDF, making this the fastest scanner among the lot.

So, these are the 9 different ways in which you can scan a book to PDF. Converting a book to PDF is the same way. If you want to extract text out of these books, you will have to run OCR engines.

You can go through in detail how that is done in this article.

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