How To Scan a Book? A Step-by-Step Guide


Scanning one page of a book is easy, but scanning an entire book or few books takes some preparation to get it right. In this article, I will cover how to digitize a book into a PDF in a few different methods.

Book scanning with a scanner

Scanning your books at home isn’t difficult once you know how. In this method, all you’ll need is a scanner, a computer, and the book you’d like to scan. You can use your typical home scanner or you can use a scanner that is built specifically for scanning books.

Book Scanning with a scanner

How to use a book scanner

Step One – Prepare the book you’d like to scan by cleaning it. You will want to make sure that you wipe away the dust, clean off any dirt, and remove any inserts that could get in the way. It’s best to do so with dry fabric or a brush. 

How To Use A Book Scanner

Once you’ve cleaned your book, open it up to the first page. If your book is super old or particularly damaged, then some people like to separate the book into individual pages before scanning but that’s up to you if you want to keep the book intact. 

Step Two – Next, you will need to open the scanner and place your book on the scanner. How you place the book depends on the type of book scanner you’re using.

  • Flat on the scanner if you’re using a flatbed scanner. Both the pages need to be located in the center.
  • On it’s back if your using a overhead book scanner
  • On top of it if you’re using an A-shaped scanner

To avoid damaging your book, you will need to ensure that you’re not overstretching or over bending the binding of the book. 

Step Three – Once you’ve placed the book on the surface, turn on your scanner.

Step Four – When your scanner has finished loading, press start. Double-check that the pages are where they should be and that you’re not cutting off any text. 

Step Five Next, you will need to click the “scan” button.

Step Seven You’ll now be asked where you would like to save the file. If you don’t want to keep the original version of the file, select “save as”, and name the new file something different.

Step eight Turn the page over and repeat this procedure until you have scanned the complete book.

Once the whole book is scanned, you will need to check whether the pages are in the right sequence. If you have missed any pages, make sure that you check the image page number and insert the missed pages before you move on to scanning your next book.

Step nine Now that you’ve successfully scanned a book, you can go ahead and view the results.

Using your phone to scan

You can easily use your phone to scan documents and we go over this in our guide: How to scan a book on your phone

Using Your Phone To Scan

There are plenty of book scanning phone apps you can use but you should know both Apple and Android have their own methods of scanning documents. 


Apple’s Notes app features a free built-in scanner that allows you to digitize documents.

  • Step One -To begin, open the app and tap the icon in the bottom right corner to create a new note.
  • Step Two – Select the Camera option then choose “Scan Documents. Your camera will open, and you can take an image.
  • Step Three – Press “Keep Scan” and it will be saved to your phone.


You can actually use the Google Drive app to scan pages.

  • Step One – Tap the plus symbol in the lower right corner of the screen. This opens a menu pane with several options.
  • Step Two – Select “Scan” and the camera will launch, allowing you to scan the page.
  • Step Three – Once you have the image, you’ll be able to crop it then save it as a PDF in your Google Drive folder.

Alternatively, there are other means of scanning a book with your phone. If you have a Microsoft 365 account, then Microsoft Office Lens – PDF Scanner is also an option.

If you have a lot of books to scan and plan to do so on your phone consider using a document scanning stand. A document scanning stand is what I would buy to get the best and quickest results. These stands constitute a place for both your book and phone to be positioned. That way you don’t need to hold the phone or the book in your hand, the camera distance and lighting stays the same so the focus doesn’t change and all you have left to do is turn the pages.

Use a professional book scanning service

If you don’t want to scan a book yourself at home, you can always use a professional book scanning service. These services can help you scan multiple books simultaneously, which means that you won’t have to do anything more than send them in.

Use a Professional Book Scanning Service

These services usually use a professional automatic book scanner that has a high quality camera and speed

In addition, there are also companies that specialize in scanning rare books and other valuable items. They can provide high-quality scans while ensuring that the integrity of your item remains intact.

What kind of professional book scanners are there?

There are a few types of professional book scanners that are commonly used in homes and in libraries that scan a lot of books

What Kind Of Professional Book Scanners Are There?

A-shaped book scanners

‘A’ shaped book scanner is basically one where the shape of the scanner is like a rectangle pointing up and you place the book on top of it.

Handheld book scanner

A handheld scanner, as the name suggests, is a scanner you hold in position while it scans each page of the book or document.

Overhead Book Scanner

An overhead book scanner has an overhanging scanning camera and a flat surface to place the book on.

Flat Bed Book Scanners

A flatbed scanner uses a glass plate instead of paper. When the book is placed on the glass plate, the scanner scans the entire book at once.

Book scanners with OCR

If you’re getting a new book scanner you should try and get one with software that includes OCR so you can later search your document and translate it if needed. To learn more about OCR read our article: What is OCR scanning?

How do I choose a book scanner based on my needs?

There are many types of book scanners available today, so how do you choose which type of book scanner is best for you?

You might want to consider our articles about what to consider before purchasing a book scanner, and the different features and specifications book scanners have.

How Do I Choose A Book Scanner Based On My Needs?

The first thing to think about is how much money you’d like to spend on a scanner. There are plenty of cheap scanners out there, but these tend to lack features such as automatic document feeders (ADFs) and duplexing capabilities.

The second consideration is the size of the documents that you plan to scan. For example, if you only plan to scan small items such as small books and letters, then you may find that an ADF is unnecessary. However, if you plan to scan large documents such as magazines, newspapers, and textbooks, then you might find an ADF very useful.

The third consideration is whether you plan to scan multiple documents at once. If this is the case, then you will need a multi-function printer with a built-in scanner.

Make sure that you consider what you need from a professional book scanner when making your choice. Click on the following link to view our list of book scanners and read what we thought about 17 different models from different brands. 

How long does it take to scan a book?

Scanning time varies depending on the model of scanner that you use, the speed of your computer, and the quality of the paper that you are scanning onto.

How Long Does It Take To Scan A Book?

For example, some models of scanners take around 15 minutes to scan a single book. Others can take longer.

However, most people report that they can get through one book per hour. 

What quality can I expect from book scanning?

You’ll notice that scanned pages look different than printed ones. The reason for this is that the color tone is adjusted during the process of scanning according to the white sheet. You can learn more about how book scanners work here.

What Quality Can I Expect From Book Scanning?

It’s also important to mention that the quality depends on the quality of the book scanner brand that you use. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t still get some high-quality results. That being said, you often get what you pay for, so make sure that you research and buy a high quality scanner that is within your budget.

In summary

Scanning books is easy if you use the right tools. But whether you use a book scanner, a phone app or a professional service there are a few other things to think about like the legality of scanning books.

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