I can imagine you are thinking about an automatic book scanner every time you have to copy 2-3 pages from a book on a copying machine.

Yes, we all know that awful process in which you flip the page, turn the book and hit the copy button. It just goes on and on and on. You are sure this will never end.

What is good? 

Well, the good part is that there are automatic book scanning machines. They provide faster scanning and also work with special book scanning software that is suited for this process.

What’s next? 

What is coming in this article is a detailed presentation of the characteristics of such book scanners. How they work, when should they be used and especially what are their positive aspects and the negative ones?

Who uses an automatic book scanner and for what

  • Automatic book scanning devices are usually found in a book scanning or book copying service. This means labor-intensive environments.
  • Another environment is printing services for books. Usually, this means the publishing process of out of print books.
  • We have also seen these equipment used in libraries or colleges. If you’ve ever wondered how to scan a textbook to pdf this might be a solution. Some universities use these book scanners for a quick turnaround.
  • Another purpose is copying book pages. Some environments require quick retrieval of different book pages. Therefore these are scanned and then copied for delivery.
  • Last but not least, general mass digitization is the most logical use of automated book scanners.

We recommend you check our book scanning service page. We also use an automatic scanner for books.

Features of an automated book scanning equipment

The best high-speed book scanners should feature different characteristics and have a number of advantages. We will try to show both the advantages and the disadvantages of using an automatic book scanner

  • Automatic turning of the pages without operator intervention. This is probably what you would expect from such a machine.
  • Resolution for scanning. The linear book scanners with automatic scanning offer a resolution of 300 or 400dpi, sometimes even 600dpi. This is enough for most projects.
  • Page size can vary, from 2 A4 scanning, up to A0 books. While most projects are for bound documents up to A4, there are some in which the size you need is larger.
  • High scanning speed. Yes, this is to be expected, considering it is working automatically. Based on the design and the condition of the book, the speed is adjustable.
  • Sensors to warn you when there are potential issues. Automatic book scanners have sensors to constantly monitor the process and stop it if needed. Same sensors will increase speed automatically if everything is working well.

Benefits and drawbacks of automated scanning machines

Just like with any product out there, this kind of equipment has good points and negative points. We will try and take you through them step by step, like a short guide.

Advantages of automatic book scanners

  • The biggest advantage of such a book scanning device is that it can process significant parts of the digitization process automatically. Whether it needs an operator or not, certain phases are fully automatic.
  • The second one is that while an overhead book scanner needs constant human intervention, a high-speed book scanner with automatic features does a lot of things by itself. Therefore, a major increase in productivity is possible.
  • Less human intervention means less human error. It might not seem this way, but the digitization process of books is filled with human errors and only minor parts are the error of machines.

Disadvantages of automatic high-speed book scanners

  • The price of automatic book scanners is the biggest drawback. They might end up costing 3-4 times more than probably the best overhead book scanner.
  • While it is the best choice for a book scanner service, for others it might not be. Book scanner services usually have a mix of manual and automated book scanner devices. This might be just too expensive for other entities.
  • While the book scanner price is one drawback, the fact that the machine may not be suited to your project is the other. Automatic book scanners like homogenous books or bound documents. This is not the case with most scanning projects.

Specifications of the market available automated book scanners

  • Initially, these bound document scanners were only available for documents a bit larger than A4. Handling pages larger than that tends to give some headaches.
  • Lately, we have seen one German manufacturer of bound document scanners, offer automated scanning even for A0 documents.
  • The scanning speed varies from a couple of hundred pages per hour to three thousand pages per hour. This is rated speed. Productivity is always smaller than the rated speed.
  • Generally, such scanners will only scan documents with a good level of physical integrity. Books with ripped pages will be almost impossible to scan.

DIY automatic book scanners

The DIY book scanner kit has caught traction in the last 5 years. There is a good online community focused on this issue. This community started with a couple of enthusiasts copying book pages quite frequently. Whether at work or in other environments, they were mostly fed up with using copiers for this activity. So they all developed their approach for such a machine, and it’s how the DIY book scanner community started.

Developing a DIY automated bound document scanner is a totally different thing. If you look at the archivist book scanner kit, the machine works quite nice. Turning it into a fully automatic scanner is a totally different thing. The main problem is that you will have to build a machine that delivers both good quality scans and turning the page automatically.

Most scanner kits are focused on good quality scanning and are identical to overhead scanners in the way they function. Turning the page automatically will take more effort. We haven’t seen promising designs yet, but with the evolution of technology, you never know when that might change.

The bottom line


These types of equipment are great to have when you have large book scanning projects. They offer great productivity and might reduce your labor costs significantly.

Still, an automatic book scanner will not scan all bound documents out there, so you have to pick your project well. If you do so, they will be excellent machines to use.


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