Introduction: How to "Steal This Book"

Picture of How to "Steal This Book"

Or rather how to digitize it if you don't have time to turn the pages by hand.

Cut the binding off with a tablesaw and scan it with a scanner that has a sheetfeeder.
Assemble the scans into a pdf file using Adobe Acrobat.
I use "Steal This Book" by Abbie Hoffman as an example.

This book is somewhat hard to find in libraries, possibly because of its title. It consists of about 80,000 words on the subject of how to get by without consuming much and cause trouble for authority figures. At the time it was written the U.S. was conducting some upopular wars and many young people concluded that the whole "system" was evil. The tone and content of the book reflects this.

Abbie is no longer with us but I've asked a couple of his kids what they thought of my scanning this book this way. Both said they didn't think their dad would mind. If you are the publisher and you object, let me know and I'll scan one printed by someone else.

Scroll down for the pdf of "Steal This Book" by Abbie Hoffman. Enjoy!

Step 1: Saw Off the Binding

Picture of Saw Off the Binding

Use proper tablesaw precautions so you don't get hurt.
If you want an extra clean cut use a new thin-kerf blade and clamp the book between two boards. Then you could use a push stick and it won't look like your hands are going into the saw as in this view.

Step 2: OOPS!

Picture of OOPS!

So that's what it's like to feel really stupid.
The blade kicked back when it hit the bone of my finger, knocking it away.
Lucky for me the flying pieces of finger didn't put my eye out.
I'll just use this bloody tube of paper instead of a finger. Pleased to meet you!

This has really been a lucky day. I didn't even get any blood on the book, so the scans are fine.

Step 3: Sheetfed Scanner

Picture of Sheetfed Scanner

I like to scan text and line art as 400dpi bitmaps. The scanners I've used did a better job that way than scanning greyscale and thresholding to bitmap later.

I've found that tiff is the best format for scans destined for pdf. Compressed or uncompressed doesn't usually matter. The files can be large, but Acrobat digests them well and the resulting pdf file is small.
DO NOT USE .JPG FORMAT!!! JPG uses "lossy" compression that fills your files with crap that can't be compressed. Use a real format like tif or gif or bmp from the good old days that isn't too smart for its own good.
New multifunction print/scan/fax machines often have a "scan to pdf" feature which might or might not do what you want. Most likely it'll use jpg format to slowly make large ugly files and then die.

You'll need to feed your book to the scanner twice, once for odd numbered page sides and once for the even sides. Do each pass into a separate directory. Then use a utility such as Thumbsplus to rename the scans so that when you put them into the same directory they'll be in the proper order. Then use Adobe Acrobat (the full version, not "reader") to assemble your files into a pdf file.


Mr Ti (author)2016-09-12

This is amazing. You have my many thanks friend.

dollie37 (author)2015-04-15

bushmann101 (author)2011-12-05

i "lost" my hard copy years back thanks for leting me relive that good laf
always liked that book never seen other books by abbie
if you or some has send to

frenzy (author)2010-06-29

I actually did "Steal This Book" but failed to remove the rfid tag and and had to go running away from the local Barnes and Noble.

Ahhh abbie hoffman would be proud.

mettaurlover (author)2008-09-15

you should join my club. it's for all of us who have done something extremely stupid in our lives, or injured ourselves due to something we forgot to do.

HEY ill join =P

i was stupid and went and touched the casing of a compressed Armstrongs Mixture after i lit it and it didnt go off...

Spent that saturday morning in the hospital, and the rest of the weekend, with my hand straight up in the air to stop the throbbing. My hand is all healed now, but i got some nasty chemical burns, and my nail got ripped back, and yeah its so not fun =P

if you wanna see the stuff that i blew up with look up
Potassium Chlorate and Red Phosphorous
on youtube, its pretty intense.

jakezcop (author)FunkNattidelic2008-10-28

um... i fell out of a tree... does that count as anything?

Nettiemac (author)jakezcop2008-11-04

Well, a few weeks ago, I challenged my son to a race through and obstacle course. I ended up with a free trip to the hospital in an ambulance (sure wish I could remember it), concussion and a sore back and neck for four weeks. Seems I fell off the top of a cargo net tied to a couple of trees and landed hard on the ground (there was a mattress which I did land on - well, most of me that is). Knocked myself out. Hubby reckons the section of ground where my head hit (and strangely enough, I had no sore spot or lump on my head) was going to be called McIntyres folly and used as a swimming pool (funny fellah, my husband). Another side effect has been a distinct dislike of food that is too fatty or too sugary and I am now finding my battle with being over weight much easier to fight and I have lost quite a bit of the excess and the plans to loose the rest of it on track. Hiubby doesn't think the concussion diet is going to catch on however. LOL

sojakai (author)Nettiemac2009-02-28

I vaguely remember reading that there were doctors, if you could call them that, that would take little hammers and pound the bumps of the skull for various reasons. Too much weight, not enough, not tall enough, and so on...

KahlZun (author)sojakai2010-05-09

You're talking about Phrenology, a Victorian belief that you could determine someones personality by the shape of their head.

mettaurlover (author)KahlZun2010-05-09

No; that's something different. I think this is like the practice fo drilling holes in people's skulls.

KahlZun (author)mettaurlover2010-05-10

What, trepanning?

mettaurlover (author)KahlZun2010-05-10

Yes, actually.

mettaurlover (author)Nettiemac2009-01-09

you can join.

deph_tek (author)mettaurlover2009-01-14

I tripped over a sign that said do not walk here...It was the second day of a 3 week trip to France with the fam and I broke my wrist lol Can I join??

mettaurlover (author)deph_tek2009-01-29

yes, you can join... anyone who does something that stupid can join.

Kryptonite (author)mettaurlover2009-01-29

I tried something new while ice-skating and learned the hard way that ice is really quite hard... And then I learned that shortly after a concussion you shouldn't wolf down your food because your hungry. Hooray for my first trip to hospital!

elmejor06 (author)Kryptonite2009-10-13

I tink these peoople fit in your club.

Kryptonite (author)elmejor062009-10-13

The Pill Pusher story made me put my face in my hands and cry. With laughter.

mettaurlover (author)Kryptonite2009-10-14


mettaurlover (author)elmejor062009-10-13

yeah... people who fall short of that are who i made the group for... that and the people who just don't pay attention to their surroundings at all...

mettaurlover (author)jakezcop2009-01-09

you can DEFINITELY join!

Turnip123 (author)mettaurlover2009-07-22

I staple gunned my own thumb, coolest xray ever.

0000012181120 (author)2010-03-18

Thanks a lot with this marvelous, and incredible book!

2 contradictory points, if I may;

As a book love myself, and collector, It is really heart breaking to see the poor destiny of this book.

However, my second point is, As this book is really hard to find, and is a delightful reading, Thank You!
The fact that this book is only, a square clued back, with individual pages, it help getting me over my collector heart.

For those who want to try, please do not do it with "classical" binded book (those folding a group of paper, and sewing them to attach each others); it's easier to cut the binding string and pages comes by themselves.
For the clued books, the second option is (like described bellow, in an unfortunate experience of drying a book), using microwave, glue goes away by itself... but less fun than this instructable.

Thanks again Tim,

aly420 (author)2010-03-12

i finally joined instructables to steal this book :]

w7mez (author)2009-07-16

What kind of software did you use for scanning?

maxim1982 (author)w7mez2010-02-09

I would use dopdf

emilygraceking (author)2010-01-31

 Thanks so much for the pdf! I have been casually looking for this book for free. Finally, you delivered it to me!

slakfjslk (author)2009-12-11

I split open my toe stepping (slipping) out of the shower. Can I join?

Yerboogieman (author)2009-08-06

The reason Steal this Book is hard to find is because people would do so.

bmschech (author)2009-04-20

I once tried to read a big, fat paperback biography in the bathtub. Well, of course I dropped the book in the tub. Then I had the brilliant idea of drying it out in the microwave. What I didn't think of was that the glue that bound the pages to the spine of the book would melt. I was left with a stack of unbound pages. At the time, I felt pretty stupid. But now it occurs to me that this could be a good way to unbind paperbacks for scanning.

Kryptonite (author)2009-02-03

No no, when something terrible or completely impossible happens, then somebody might say "there is no god!!!"

Kryptonite (author)2009-02-01

...if you insist... is this neato? You lost me :P

Kryptonite (author)2009-01-29

There is no god!

itstemo1 (author)2009-01-16

Now I need to find a scanner that does that? any advise? I don't have a printer so I wouldn't mind getting a combo (even when I do hate them)

killa696 (author)2008-10-15

dude, wasnt that book banned? download it as an ebook, if u don't have it, it's awesome

puffyfluff (author)2008-10-09

Great 'ible, I love the idea.

Solderguy (author)2008-09-10

I once hammered a piece of metal the size of a quarter that was used in a car suspension and it jumped and left a deep gash on my chin. So I can relate to you about almost losing an eye through general stupidity. Great instructable, 3/5 because it can get you killed. Also,weren't you wearing eye protection?

puffyfluff (author)Solderguy2008-10-09


guitarman63mm (author)Solderguy2008-09-11

I was once killed by a deer.

Parlay (author)guitarman63mm2008-09-30

I'm a deer, I once killed a guy

killa696 (author)guitarman63mm2008-09-15

lawl. Made a skewer-gun once out of a pen tube and a balloon. pulled it back as far as it would go and the skewer cut through the baloon and stuck into my thumb. Lucky it wasnt too deep.

necropolian (author)killa6962008-09-19

i was hammering on a round piece of iron, when it jumped, and i really was thankful my eye's have good reflexes. otherwise i maybe had one blind eye now. has everybody seen that the tablesaw is very bloodred?

pyro13 (author)2008-09-29

haha thanks i read this whole pdf in a night =D very nice book :P

fortneja (author)2008-09-20

I was using a stationary belt sander, then the part I was sanding kicked back, and the palm of my hand got sucked between the belt wheel and the table. It sanded off a several layers of skin on my palm before I was able to turn it off. About a quarter of my palm has no handprint lines now, it's just flat scars.

hedgiehog (author)fortneja2008-09-23

the chain on my bike once slipped and the metal pedal gouged into the back of my calf, ripping out a small chunk. heres the pic lol

Ekips (author)hedgiehog2008-09-25

Damn lol did a pirate stitch that up for you?

me! (author)2008-09-25

isnt that finger whole in the previous slide?

baneat (author)2008-09-22

It slipped out of the drill press because the drill stuck into it and slide it out sideways :P

mettaurlover (author)2008-09-15

but those are less fun.

About This Instructable




Bio: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output ... More »
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