Who will scan my books for cheap?
September 1, 2012 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Is cheap book-scanning available to consumers yet? I'd like to get a few hundred books scanned, to save space, destructive OK. AskMe hasn't addressed this for a couple of years, and I'm hoping folks know - and ideally have personally experience with - what the best options are these days.
posted by caitlinb to Grab Bag (3 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I've not used them, but I've heard good things about 1dollarscan
posted by deezil at 1:34 PM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you don't mind "destructive", you can do it yourself in under 15 minutes at Kinkos. Carefully unbind the books, place it on a sheet-feeder, choose two sided, and hit "scan".

That said, b1trot has a good point - If you don't mind destructive, you probably don't have anything all that rare; and if you don't have anything all that rare, I'd give good odds you can find it already scanned somewhere on the web.
posted by pla at 2:45 PM on September 1, 2012

The problem with scanning is that you end up with images of a page, an image with imperfections at that. Sure, you can OCR it (and hope you get 95% of the words right) so now it's searchable and dump that to some sort of ebook format (ePub, txt, etc) and then correct all the mistakes. And then reinsert any images there might be.

I'm betting the time for you to do this isn't worth it.

Or you could buy it digitally. You can't steal it digitally (but you could steal another book from the bookstore if you wanted to steal). But you could infringe on the copyright of the right holder by acquiring a digital copy. You've only paid for the right to one copy not two. I can see arguments both ways about the right to format shift (first sale doctrine, etc).

What's funny is scanning a book you own and then destroying it isn't a problem. But downloading one (from one of the less on the level websites out there) and destroying your paperback would be argued by some to be not legal, even though the outcome (paid for one physical book, ended up with just one electronic book) is the same, just the path to getting there is much less annoying. (It's five clicks for me to download every Arrested Development episode in a format that I can shove on my iPad but transcoding all of those DVDs I own would take weeks assuming I did one disc per night.)

What I'm dying to know is does that 1dollarscan company scan the same book a second time it comes in, or do they just say "hey, we've got this already, just cut the spine off and use this file from last week"? How many copies of To Kill A Mockingbird or Catch 22 do you think they've received? Do they really spend the time scanning it over and over? Or is this how they actually keep their prices at this level, by doing what amounts to an analog dedupe?

More on track for the OP: go to Kinkos. Or, if you don't want the pages going through an ADF on a large copy machine, you can build a rig like this specificially for copying books non-destructively.
posted by Brian Puccio at 4:38 PM on September 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

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