How To Scan a Book With Your Phone


Whether you’re hoping to save some pages of an old book before the binding falls apart, or you just want to have a digitized version of your learning books – Scanning it to a PDF is the perfect solution, and there are more than a few different ways to scan books.  In this article we discuss how you can scan a book with your smartphone and what phone apps you can use to get the best results. 

How do you scan a book with your phone?

Scanning a few pages of a book with your phone isn’t too tricky. 

However, scanning an entire book with your phone, or even several books, can take quite a bit of time and effort and you might want to do some research before getting into that. The first stage will be choosing the best phone app for scanning books.

Phone apps for scanning books

It’s recommended that you download a good scanning app on your phone. These work by taking control of your camera and adding some extra processing to the images like angles and brightness.

Phone apps for scanning books

You will need to ensure that the camera is adjusted well towards the page you re scanning. Some scanning apps will then scan the page automatically, whilst others require you to press a button (very similar to when you take a photo). 

It is important that you take a little bit of time to properly position the phone. If it is slightly off, you might accidentally cut out some all-important words! Once you are done scanning one page, you will need to turn the page of the book and repeat the process.

Scanning apps are ideal for tasks such as this one because the result will be kept in one file on your phone. Additionally, if you accidentally mess up the page order, most scanning apps allow you to rearrange this when you are done!

Note that some scanning apps have OCR and some don’t. OCR is a scanning feature in the software that recognizes the letters while scanning and allows you to later search the document. It’s a really amazing feature and you should look for phone apps that have it. Check out our full list of phone apps here: Phone app for scanning books.

There are many different scanning apps to choose from, and fortunately, some of the best options are completely free! Check out our favorite phone scanning apps below.

1. Office Lens iOS / Android Office Lens

This free app by Microsoft is ideal for scanning documents. It works to enhance the image and produce incredibly readable scans. You can also use this app to convert images into PDF, Word, and PowerPoint files. As such, if you would prefer to take photos of the book and convert these photos into a PDF file later, you have that option with this app!

 Office Lens iOS / Android Office Lens

2. CamScanner Basic Free iOS / Android CamScanner

This free scanner is very easy to use. It uses Smart Image cropping and image enhancement technology to ensure that every page scanned is readable and clear. This app makes scanning, storing, and sending documents very simple.

3. FineScanner Pro

Unfortunately, this app is not free. In fact, it is rather expensive – so it definitely is not an impulse buy! However, if you’re planning on scanning multiple books, this app is your best option. It has a great feature called BookScan which allows you to digitize books by pointing your camera at them. The app works to automatically detect the edges of the page and then corrects the image for distortion near the binding.

Professional book scanning using your phone

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.

Document Scanning Stand

If you want to buy a document scanning stand, you can purchase one here or here

Phone Mount

An alternative to getting a document stand that you might already have at your home is a phone mount. Just like the one you maybe have in your car. If you plan to scan more than one book, this will make your life a lot easier. A phone mount will hold your phone completely still and in the right place so that you can scan your book without leaning over the book cradle and constantly having to refocus the scanner. You can purchase one here if you need it.

Book Stand/Cradle

This is especially important if you’re concerned about the wear and tear of your book. It can be tricky to scan a book delicately if you do not have a book cradle. Book cradles work to support the book so that it isn’t fully opened, ensuring that the spine and binding are protected.

Book Stand/Cradle

Even if the book you want to scan isn’t particularly fragile, a book cradle can definitely save you some effort. It can be quite tricky to hold the book with one hand and scan with the other, especially if it is quite a large book!
If you don’t already have a book cradle, you can purchase one here. However, it is worth mentioning that book cradles are quite pricey. If you’re on a budget, it is fairly easy to construct one yourself.

Good Lighting

It is important that you have good lighting, as using the flash on your phone will reduce the quality of the image. It might be that you have to experiment a little bit with angles before you find the perfect lighting (without annoying shadows). Using two light sources(lamps will work) is a good idea.

Two Phones and Mounts (Optional)

Ok, so this seems a little excessive, and it definitely is! However, if you happen to have access to two smartphones and two phone mounts, using them both will make scanning your book even easier. This way, you can position one phone to capture odd-numbered pages, and one for even-numbered pages.

Remote (Optional)

Again, this isn’t a necessity, especially if you don’t plan on scanning a large book or a few different books. However, constantly clicking the button on your phone after you turn the page of your book can get a little tiresome, especially when you have a lot to scan.

As such, if you plan on scanning a lot of content, we recommend purchasing a remote control for your smartphone’s camera. You can purchase one of these very cheaply, and they can come in handy in a number of different situations. You can purchase one here.

Is it legal to scan a book on your phone?

There has been much recent debate about  the legality of book scanning. However, it is widely accepted in the US that it is ok to scan a book for personal use. This is because turning a book that you’ve purchased into an e-book for your own use doesn’t affect the market value of the work. However, it is not appropriate for you to distribute your scanned book.

Is It Legal To Scan a Book on Your Phone?

Can You Scan a Book For Educational Purposes?

You cannot scan the whole book for educational purposes. As a rule of thumb, it is generally considered acceptable to scan a single chapter from a book or a single journal article for educational purposes. Copying full works may require copyright permission.

How to scan a book (not with your phone)?

If you consider digitizing books in other methods you should learn about the

 different types of book scanners, and the different types and brands that make book scanners.

How to scan a book (not with your phone)?

You should read our guides about how to scan books, and how to scan old books and what to consider before getting a book scanner.

Once you get that covered, consider reading about book scanning software and about how to book scanners work.

If you want to get fast results with high quality scanning you might also want to consider a book scanning service to do the digitization for you. These services usually use a professional automatic book scanner that has a high quality camera and speed


Scanning a book for personal use is a great way to digitally preserve knowledge. And if you don’t have access to a professional book scanner or a library book scanner using your phone and a book scanning app should work just fine. However, remember that there are legal issues involved with copying copyrighted material. Make sure that you follow any guidelines given to you by the publisher or author of the book before scanning it. 

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