August 25, 2020


By Ankush Kohli

Book scanning is a the process in which physical books are converted to digital file formats, that are readable on PC, tablets and other special digital viewers.

It involves the use of both professional book scanners or documents scanners to convert each page individually, and convert it to a text based format or an image file format.

The book scanning steps are the following:

  1. Preparation of the book according to the chosen book scanning method.
  2. Scanning each page individually and converting it to an image file.
  3. Post processing of each image and delivery of accurate images.
  4. Optical Character Recognition OCR for converting image files to text files
  5. Quality Control of the scans


Before you start the actual scanning process, your books must be prepared accordingly. The first thing to check is the condition of the book. Analyze the book integrity, if the pages are holding well into the binding and if any pages are missing. If everything seems to be in order, you can follow through for specific preparations.

We generally separate the book scanning process into two specific categories: destructive book scanning and non destructive book scanning. The first one is great to use when you are scanning books that don’t have a very high value or you have more than one copy of that book. At the same time, the non destructive book scanning process is ideal for heritage books or books with high value to the owner.


As you are probably aware, the destructive book scanning means that the book is cut before scanning. Before you do that, please inspect if the book contains any dust, dirt or lint. You should really try and clean it, even before cutting the books.

After you make sure the book is clean, you can follow through and remove the binding. While there isn’t a specific method to do this, we do recommend you use a high quality ream or stack cutter ( guillotine ). If the book has a lot of pages, it’s recommended to separate it into smaller batches before cutting.

Prior to making the actual cut, please make sure you check how deep the writing goes into the gutter. Not all books are made equal, in some cases the content may go well into the gutter, so you have to be really careful before you make the actual cut. Once the binding is removed, make sure each individual page is loose, as you risk having multifeeds during the scanning process, or to be more precise, the scanner might miss pages during scanning.


It’s much easier to prepare a book for non destructive scanning. The advice with checking for dirt, lint and dust still remains, and it’s probably as important or if not, maybe even more important. Because most professional book scanners use a flattening glass, after repetitive scanning this glass will have to be cleaned.

The better the book is cleaned before the scanning process, the higher the productivity while scanning. You will have to stop less times to clean the glass, remove the dust or even have to do less rescans in the process. Another thing you must check is the integrity of the book and its pages, as some automatic book scanners will use vacuum to turn the pages. So you need them to stick well together into the binding.


This is probably the most well know step of the entire book scanning process. In this phase, you either use a specialized professional book scanner, an ADF scanner or your average multifunction device. Page by page, you create a digital copy of each book, outputing the images to PDF, TIFF or Jpeg file formats.

Of course, there are different settings to choose from, such as resolution, color or black and white, book size and other various characteristics based on the original book or desired output form.


To do non destructive book scanning, you must use a professional book scanner. While it is possible to use a multifunction device, and go page by page, you still risk overstretching the book when scanning it. We will resume using a professional book scanner, as this is probably the correct procedure.

First of all inspect the book size. If the desired book fits the scanner you use, go ahead and lay the book on the book cradle, face up. Then go on and choose the appropriate resolution settings. 200dpi should be used when you need a low file size, so you can easily send it to your colleagues. We do recommend a resolution of 300dpi or above for maximum results. 300dpi is probably a very good compromise.

Then look at the layout of the book. Does it have colored images and graphics? In such cases, it is recommended to scan it in color, to preserve the original aspect. When all the settings are done and dusted, go ahead and carefully scan each individual page.

If you use an automatic book scanner, maintain a close overview of the process as it goes along. If you need to turn the page manually, go ahead an do it carefully, applying the least pressure on the book. Depending on the speed of the scanner and size of the book, it might take anywhere from 10 minutes for short books, to hours when scanning really large books.

The good part : Books remain intact and you will preserve their original condition.

The bad part : It’s quite labor intensive and it will take a bit to scan an entire book. Sometimes the scan quality might be lower.