Picture of Bargain-Price Book Scanner From A Cardboard Box.
Who doesn't want access to their books, notebooks, magazines, class notes, and other stuff everywhere, all the time? The thing is that often these things are a pain to scan. I have a really good solution for that, but it's expensive and can take a whole weekend to build. How do you scan a book, magazine or notebook when you have no money, one camera, and just a little time? Matti and I show you how:

(PDF version here)

Step 1: Reasons You Might Want To....

Picture of Reasons You Might Want To....

BEFORE WE BEGIN... Reasons you might want to do this include the following:

  1.  You need to scan something, fast, but it doesn't scan easily.
  2.  You don't want to build an entire DIY Book Scanner.
  3.  You don't want to waste your time with a flatbed scanner.
  4.  You have only one camera.
  5.  You might not have a lot of tools or experience.
  6.  You want digital copies of your books or notebooks.

ALSO... We've done this book scanning Instructable thing before. And answered many questions in the comments! And we love you guys completely, but sometimes (well, actually, all the time) we get the same questions over and over! So we've compiled a Fairly Annoying Questions (FAQ) Here are some answers before we get started!

1. Why not just take a picture with the book on the table. 

  1. Why don't you. ;)
  2. Your camera doesn't have enough resolution for two pages.
  3. The distorted pages are not fun to read onscreen.
  4.  Lighting is inconsistent.
  5.  Cameras cast shadows. You cast shadows.

2. Why use a camera instead of a flatbed scanner?

  1.  Pressing a book on the scanner breaks the binding.
  2.  Flatbed scanners are slow.
  3.  You need to reposition the book for every page.
  4.  Flatbed scanners are slooooooow.
  5.  Sloooooooowwwwwnesssssss.

3. Why not use a sheet-feed scanner like the ScanSnap?

  1.  I don't like sawing the bindings off my books.
  2.  A small part of me dies when I destroy a book.
  3.  I don't have a tablesaw.
  4.  I'm not willing to spend ~$500 just to destroy a book.

4. Can't I use a webcam?

  1.  No.


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JJJM5 years ago
Hello, I am just giving my first steps into scanning books and this has been very helpful, specially the Q&A section at the beginning.

My goal is not only to have a pdf but a text document which is more useful for ereaders. So far, with my short experience I have two questions for you:

* Do you get good pdf quality which can be converted into text witha high success rate?

* In my opinion lighting is one of the keys? How could we improve it to have a better scanning? Fluorescent or halogen do any better?

Thanks again.
mguima5 years ago
 Freeware Irfanview has plenty of features to process several pages: cropping, rotating, color enhancing (auto or user-defined),resolution changing, etc.
mguima5 years ago
I would give a try to a CFL (compact fluorescent lamp), instead of the incandescent one.
LimbusFarm5 years ago
I've been having an issue running the RenameAll.exe file. It will consistently lock up after ~90 images and Windows will close the program. Is anyone else having this issue or can see the issue in the code? Thanks.
Turns out it was easy to hunt down; my first shot at fixing it was trying to free() the next image from memory, problem was the next image hadn't even been loaded yet. Also I wanted to free() the current image. It's all fixed now.

The links in the instructable now point to the new binaries and source code.

Awesome! Thanks for fixing it!
Yeah, I noticed it last night while I was trying do do a 260-pager.

It's a nasty memory leak I've been trying to hunt down; a very stupid way to get around it would be to make a bunch of ~60 sized subfolders with half right/half left and do them in chunks.

You see, we did our testing on a 20-page test data-set...

I'll update the code/ instructable in the coming week with improved stuff.
daniel_reetz (author)  LimbusFarm5 years ago
Hey maxwellparish, I'll forward this on to Matti.

If you're in a hurrry, BulkRenameUtility is another good general purpose renamer. But we will get RenameAll working.
Chromatica5 years ago
Too bad theirs no way to do this in Vector format. Only roster.
Doctor What5 years ago
I loved your first scanning instructable, but it seemed too complex to be able to do in one's house, unless they had a large dedicated space.

This seems way easier, and I love the idea.

EXCEPT:  Your final images were slightly.... umm.... illegible.  Was this an error in the uploading to the site, or do they actually look like that afterwards?
daniel_reetz (author)  Doctor What5 years ago
 I just put some notes on those images to prevent any further confusion about image quality. 

Thanks for the kudos... hope this leads even more people to start scanning their own stuff....
You can upload bigger images than those  - was the site reporting a specific error?

I think he's talking about the quality decrease.
Thanks for clearing things up.  I am going to try this now!  (my textbooks would be much easier to carry in digital format).
daniel_reetz (author)  Doctor What5 years ago
Good luck and please report back with how it turns out. We're also talking about it here. I think you'll find Scan Tailor does a great job with books that are mostly text. 

The other thing I think you'll find is that you'll want to zoom in on your books much closer than our little camera image in step 8 might suggest. 

Finally, I think this is going to work best on books that are thinner than the one we used (it's over 2" thick). The thing that you'll notice is that the pages "move away" from the camera as you travel through the thickness of the book. That is what the sliding cradle in the original instructable solved. But this is all minor stuff. Cheers and again, best of luck to you.
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