Still thinking of how to do non-destructive book scanning in 2019? Look no further, we are here to help you out.

We will provide you with an in-depth guide on how to scan books without damaging them and also a brief overview on how we do it.

Want to get in touch with us regarding non destructive book scanning? Do you think we can help you out with your questions or maybe even your project?

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    1. What is non destructive book scanning?
    2. How to scan a book without damaging it?
    3. Our non destructive book scanning service?
    4. Scanning Old Books without breaking the spine

What is non destructive book scanning?

Non-destructive book scanning is the process in which physical books are scanned to digital file formats without removing the back of the spine or destroying it. This process revolves around the use of special book scanners that protect the integrity of the spine and the pages of your original book. 

We offer book scanning without destroying books. Our special book scanners can handle books, textbooks, and other bound documents without damaging them.

In the past, companies would remove the spine of the book for the scanning process. Now we scan them directly bounded.

Currently, we use different types of book scanners that can scan bound documents such as books, textbooks or binders without affecting them. As mentioned, these are called book scanners and they come in different types.

If you would like a demo or want a free book scanning test, just let us know, by contacting us right now.

How to scan a book without damaging it?

To scan a book without damaging it, follow these steps:

  1. Prepare the book before the scan. Remove any inserts, wipe the dust away and clean any dirt.
  2. Start the actual scanning process. Focus on capturing all the data up to the gutter of the book.
  3. Make sure you are not overstretching the binding during the scanning process.
  4. Finish the scanning and prepare the book for storage. Make sure the scan is perfect so you don’t have to rescan in the future.
  5. Congratulations! You have successfully scanned a book without damaging it.

Are you trying to scan books by yourself? If you need any help with this process, let us know and we will try to help you.

Non-destructive scanning of books with an automatic book scanner

There are non-destructive book scanners available that include the automatic flipping of pages. This means that the actual scanning process is autonomous. The operator can focus on quality control and improve throughput. The rest of the work is done by the scanning machine.


Non destructive Book scanning - Picture of a manual book scanning equipment

Picture of an automatic book scanning equipment

What we like about using an automatic scanner for books

We love the fact that it’s very fast. It is indeed nice when you see that you can scan books at over 1500 pages per hour. The gentle air blower flips the pages automatically. As an operator, you still have to assist it, but you are more like a director rather than being a user.

Also, it helps you keep an eye on the scanning results. The book pages are shown while you can them and you can do an initial quality check of the scanning process. You can also mark pages that require a rescan or special attention from your side.

Mainly, we love the fact that you don’t focus on the actual scanning rather you focus on what to improve. It is a very proactive approach to book scanning and we love that.

In this video, you can see the machine at work scanning a book. We highly suggest you take a look.

What we don’t like about our automatic book scanning equipment

While using a gentle air blow is good for the integrity of pages, it does mean the book spine has to be ok. If you have a book where pages are not stuck in their binding, the scanner might blow them out. It is just an automatic book scanner that will work. They need the bound document to be ok.

Another thing that you need is homogenous books and pages. More or less, you need books with uniform sizes over the entire length of the book. If your documents have significant variations, we will scan them on our manual book scanner.

Manual book scanners for non-destructive scanning

Manual book scanners scan books and textbooks with the operator flipping the pages manually. There are 2 types of manual book scanning equipment, those with overhead cameras and others with linear sensors.

We mainly use the second type of machine, as it provides the correct geometrical values for all book pages. Book scanners that work with overhead cameras and area sensors, deliver images with distortions and incorrect geometrics.

Non destructive Book scanning - Picture of a manual book scanning equipment

Picture of a manual book scanning equipment

What we like about manual book scanners

We have a lot of really old books coming in. Such is the case with manuscripts or other textbooks that are over 100 years old. You can imagine the condition they are in is not the best. The bookbinding is usually very loose, and the pages of the book are ripped apart a lot of times. Therefore we need to scan them with extra care. Also, most of the page sizes are not really the same.

We also like the fact that we can alternate book pages with loose pages. Sometimes we have binders that contain mixed batches of loose documents and bound textbooks. Using a manual scanner allows us to alternate pretty quickly between variations.

What we don’t like about manual book scanning equipment

Manual book scanner usually means a slow book scanner. Production times are notoriously low when you compare with automatic book scanners. We have seen sometimes a throughput that is 3 times lower than with automatic book scanners.

At the same time, we do see some quality issues with manual book scanners. Because they require the books to sit in an optimal position for scanning, this is not always possible. We do however correct these aspects with our state of the art image processing software for book pages.

Our non destructive book scanning service?

We can also perform services for non destructive book scanning. We will scan your books without removing the spine using one of our book scanners. Currently, we own over 5 special book scanner, including an automatic one and also the OVS3 which is the machine we have built.

Are you interested in ordering from our service? Just click here to make an order or calculate your price!

Non destructive Book scanning - Picture of one of our book scanners

Picture of another one of our book scanners

The book scanning machines we use

The ScanRobot is the automatic book scanner we use for non destructive scanning.

  • It can reach speeds of over 1500 pages per hour for certain books
  • It will only scan A4 books or a little over this size
  • The book scanning machine can scan in color, grayscale or directly in bitonal
  • It will only work for books that are integrally sound

The OVS3 is our pride and joy. It is the machine we developed. Although it is not yet semi-automatic it will be in the near future.

  • This book scanning machine can scan documents up to 2xA3
  • The scanning speed is around 1000 pages per hour
  • This scanner converts color, grayscale and bitonal documents
  • It can scan any type of books even highly damaged ones

Scanning Old Books without breaking the spine

To scan old books, we are currently using a mix of our book scanners for fragile material. We have developed our own scanner for books which has the following features :

  • It is a V-shaped machine which allows the scanning of old books that do not fully open.
  • The V Shape book cradle allows us to release the pressure of the book spine, therefore reducing tension and the risk of damaging the binding.
  • We use a special LED cold light, which does not damage the paper or the pencil marks on the paper.
  • The pressure glass allows us to flatten the material and get perfect scans. We also use a special glass that does not generate reflexion.

Would you like to know more about this or maybe you need help with scanning your old books?

We will be happy to hear from you!

Scanning books to PDF and other file formats

After we scan the books using our scanning machines, we post-process the images. In this part, the images files are taken through different operations and finally, they are converted to PDF.

The PDF file formats we offer are PDF/A and standard PDF. Both types of PDF files are offered with OCR, which stands for Optical Character Recognition. Practically, by scanning your paper books have now been converted to Ebooks in PDF file format. The text is now searchable and you can find anything you search for really fast.

The other file formats we can offer are Word documents or even Excel files. These formats we only obtain through the OCR process. There is no other way for this. Characters and numbers are recognized and the software tries to rebuild the original document in a Word or XLS file.

This is a great tool for authors for example. They can now sell their old paper books in digital formats. A great way to access the new digital market for books.

Non destructive Book scanning - How a book will look after we scan it and convert it to PDF

How a book will look after we scan it and convert it to PDF

Conclusions on non-destructive book scanning

  • A non-destructive book scanner is an equipment that doesn’t damage books or textbooks while scanning them.
  • Such scanning equipment has different features and specifications, so please be careful before using.
  • There are automatic book scanners and manual book scanning machines, with differences in methods and throughput.
  • Choosing between scanning machines is important and it requires experience and expertise in book scanning.

We suggest reading our article on the best way to scan a book or go to our book scanning service page for more information and insights.

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