There are so many things to consider when shopping for book scanners, it can be overwhelming. In this article we’ll go over all the aspects and features you should know to make a smart choice.
Do you need a book scanner?
Book scanners are devices for digitizing books into a digital formats like PDFs. But there are other methods for scanning books without buying a scanner.
- Scan with your phone: You can use your phone camera for scanning books along with a book scanning app.
- Go to the library: Nowadays many public libraries have book scanners that the public can use
- Use a service: Professional book scanning services would be happy to do the scanning for you.
If you only have one or two books to scan, then you should consider the methods mentioned above. But if you have more than a few books to scan, getting a book scanner is a good idea.
Why do you need a book scanner?
There are a few different types of book scanners and the answer to the questions below will help determine the right type for your needs.
Are you getting a book scanner for scanning you personal books at home? Are these comic books? Are they very old and fragile books?
Or maybe you have a scanning business and you will be scanning client’s books?
Are you buying book scanners for a library? Are you going to scan an entire collection of books?
Now let’s go over the different types of book scanners and see what types are best for each need.
The different types of book scanners
There are a few types of book scanners you should be considering. Each type has different functions that make him suitable for different needs.
Overhead Book Scanners
Overhead book scanners are the most common type of book scanners. These scanners are composed of an overhanging camera on top and a cradle to place the book at the bottom.
These type of scanners are popular because they are easy to operate and they deliver a great quality scan. Many of them are also foldable and portable so they are easy to carry around.
They are most suitable for personal home or office use or as book scanners for libraries who wish to offer book scanners as part of their services.
If you’re scanning old, fragile books an overhead scanner will also be ideal because there is minimum handling of the book which might hurt it.
Handheld book scanners [Portable]
Handheld book scanners are like a “scanning stick” and you use them by sliding “the stick” with your hand over each page.
These book scanners are great for individuals who need a portable device that can easily be placed in your backpack.
These are great for personal use, especially if you need to scan documents on the go. Scanning big quantities of books’ pages with this scanner will be exhausting.
Automatic book scanners
Automatic book scanners are entirely hands free scanning devices – all you have to do is place the book in the cradle and the machine does all of the rest, including flipping the pages and adjusting the angles and focus for the perfect scan.
These scanners are big and expensive machines that are not suitable for home use. But if you have a scanning business or a library, and you plan to scan a lot of books, you should definitely consider getting an automatic book scanner.
Book Scanners Features and Specifications
The following features aren’t listed in any particular order and you can read more about them in our article about book scanners features.
OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition and it’s a technology that knows to recognise symbols and letters inside an image file and make your document searchable.
A good scanning speed for a home book scanners is up to 2-seconds per page. So to scan a 500-pages book, including the time it takes to flip the pages and hit ‘Scan’ can take about 30 minutes straight.
A good book scanner’s camera resolution would be anywhere between 14 to 20 MP (Megapixel).
Page Size Coverage
Each book scanner has its own scanning size. The sizes are described like printer pages sizes: A2, A3 and A4. A2 being the biggest and A4 the smallest.
Please note that not all book scanners are compatible with Mac devices.
Most book scanners come with fixed in lighting, but in case they don’t, or that it’s not sufficient, you might want to consider getting a strong overhead lamp for improved lighting.
Page Turning Detection
Book scanners that have Page Turning Detection can detect when a page has been turned, and use this as a sign to proceed with the next page scan. This can save quite a lot of time when you are scanning books that are many pages long.
With this feature you specify a time interval for the device to scan a page, for example, every 3-seconds. Then you flip the pages and the device continuously scans every3-seconds until you turn it off.
Book Flattening Technology
Paperback and hardback books tend to have the pages curving over when you open it to view the text. Book flattening means that the scanner can take the image and adjust its angle in a way that will make it seem as the book was laying flat.
Book Scanner for Personal Use
Let’s go over the things you should consider before getting a book scanner for digitizing books at home.
Consider Scanning the Book on Your Phone
It is possible to scan books right on your smartphone, and some of these book scanning apps are free to download and use, and some of these apps even feature OCR scanning technology. If this is sufficient for you, then you may not need to buy a dedicated book scanner at all.
Consider Sending Your Book to a Book Scanning Service
If you don’t have a lot of books to scan, it may prove to be cheaper to send your book/s to a book scanning service rather than spend over a hundred dollars on a book scanner. There are many book scanning services in the US that are very professional.
If you’re scanning books to assist with your studies, you may wish to take your book scanner on the go when you visit the library, or lend it out to your fellow course mates, in which case it would help if the device was sufficiently lightweight, portable, and easy to carry around.
And if you require your book scanner to be portable, you may also want to consider its battery life.
Some overhead book scanners can be folded. This is really useful if you’re not using your scanner on a daily basis, you can simply place it in a drawer instead of it taking precious space on your desk.
Consider How Easy is it to Set Up and Operate
When your book scanner is for personal use, there’s no-one to help you to get it to work the way you want it to. Therefore, the easier it is to set up and operate, the better. Try looking for a book scanning software that has good reviews and that users say it’s intuitive and easy to use. You can read more about it in our article about how book scanners work.
A book scanner is a complex device, and if it were to break down, you may not be in a position to resolve the issue yourself. And to that end we would recommend that you look for a book scanner with a good manufacturer’s warranty that runs for at least a minimum of 12 months, but preferably longer.
Consider the Legality of Book Scanning
Before you do anything else, you need to check that what you intend to do with the digitized copies of the books is permitted by law. You may want to read our article about book scanning and copyrights.
Consider the Cost
Everyone has a budget to consider, regardless of intended use. And while the best book scanners on the market often come with a hefty price tag, especially professional ones, the ones intended for personal use tend to be more reasonably priced.
You may find that you can save money by buying one that is pre-owned and refurbished.
Consider the Quality of the Image
There’s little benefit in scanning a book if the digitized copy remains difficult to read due to insufficient image quality. However, sharper images require greater technology, and therefore a higher price tag.
Consider if You Need OCR or Not
We would argue that you should always go for a scanner with OCR technology. It is OCR technology that makes a digitized book searchable, once it has been produced. And even if you’re only scanning books for personal use, this can come in super handy if you’re using it for studies and cross-referencing.
On the flip side, scanners with OCR do come with a higher price tag, and it makes the scanning take longer.
Book Scanners for Libraries
Let’s go over the things you should consider before getting a book scanner for a library.
Who will be using the book scanner?
If the book scanners will serve the visitors of the library, you want something that will provide high quality scans, but that will also be easy to use.
If the book scanner is a part of a digitization project of the entire library’s collection than you will want a high-end professional scanner. In that case you might want to consider getting an automatic book scanner.
Consider How Much Space the Scanner Will Occupy
If you’re purchasing one or even multiple scanners, you need to think about where you are going to place them and how much space they are going to take.
Consider How Easy it is to Set Up and Operate
A good book scanner for students needs to be simple to set up and operate. This means that you don’t need to spend hours learning how to use it.
Consider the Scanning Speed
Obviously, the faster the scanning speed, the better. You don’t want people spending hours scanning entire books.
Consider the Ease of Maintenance
This goes hand in hand with durability. The easier it is to maintain, the less likely you are to encounter problems down the road. If the scanner has to be sent away to be repaired, you could lose many hours of scanning.
Book Scanner for Business Use
If you’re running a business, then you need a book scanner that can handle all sorts of different tasks. Here are some considerations to keep in mind.
Consider the Scanning Speed
If you run a business where you need to scan a large volume of books, you’ll need a book scanner that will allow you to do so quickly and efficiently. An automatic book scanner will be the fastest solution but overhead book scanners with continuous scanning or page turning detection can also be very productive.
Consider the Type of Documents That You Need to Scan
Some book scanners can only scan up to A4 size. If you need to scan bigger sizes, then look for scanners that can scan up to A2,
Consider the Quality Required by Your Documents
The quality of the scans that you produce will depend upon the resolution at which you scan your documents. As a general rule, the higher the resolution, the better.
On the flip side, however, the higher the resolution, the longer it takes to scan them. So, you need to balance the speed and quality of your scans against each other.
Now that you considered all there is to consider about book scanners you can go ahead and choose the right book scanner for your needs and budget. Make sure to go over our list of book scanners brands to know the difference between each brand.
Happy book scanning!