Introduction: How to "Steal This Book"

About: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output devices. His detailed drawings of traditional Pacific I…

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

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!

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

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.