Monday, August 29, 2011

Scan and Digitize Your Books for $1 Each

Sometimes we find something from another website or blog that is just too good to not share with everyone. Here is an article that applies precisely. This could be a major benefit for anyone who is planning to downsize books, photos, etc. My thanks to Dick Eastman for allowing me to pass his article on to you.

The following article is from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author. Information about the newsletter is available at

1DollarScan Newsletter reader "Stony" Stonebraker wrote to tell of a new scanning service that is available. I read about the new service and became enthused. I write about a lot of services and products in this newsletter, but this is one I think I will use frequently!

I have been scanning genealogy books in preparation for "downsizing" someday. As I move closer to retirement, I realize that I will someday move to smaller living quarters without room for all the books and magazines I have accumulated. I won't have room for the required bookshelves. The answer seems obvious: digitize them! Thousands of books can be stored in a very small computer or in a tablet computer or even a flash drive.

The problem is that my progress to date has been slow. Scanning a book is a tedious process, and I haven't completed the scanning of very many books. Now a new online service promises to do the job for me at a modest price: one dollar per 100-page book. The same service will also scan documents, photographs, business cards, and even the old greeting cards from relatives I have been saving all these years.

1DollarScan is the U.S. division of a company called Bookscan that has been in business for a few years and now does several million dollars of business per year in Japan.

Anyone can use 1DollarScan by filling out an online order form and then shipping the books or other materials to 1DollarScan's offices in San Jose, California. The company scans them and converts them into PDF files and also performs OCR (optical character recognition) to create a text layer behind the images to make the text searchable and selectable. The PDF files and text files can be sent to the customer by download or on DVD disks. The PDF files can be read on:

Any Windows, Macintosh, or Linux computer
Apple iPad, iPad2, iPhone3G, iPhone3GS, iPhone4, iPod touch
HTC Desire, HTC DesireHD, Xperia
Amazon Kindle3 (coming soon)
SONY Reader PRS-650 (coming soon)
Barnes & Noble Nook (coming soon)
All Android phones, All Android Tabs
And probably all future computers and ebook readers as well

PDF is a standard that probably will be around for many years. When a better format becomes widely available, conversion programs undoubtedly will be available to easily convert the PDF files to whatever format becomes popular in the future.

After the materials are scanned and the electronic images are returned to the customer, the original paper documents may either be returned (the customer pays the shipping charges) or sent to a recycling service to be shredded and reborn as recycled paper. Obviously, none of us will be sending family heirloom photos to be recycled! However, this is a great method of recycling all the less-valuable books and magazines I have accumulated over the years. I bet I have 200 pounds of them and I certainly can't keep them all when I "downsize my living space."

Once the materials have been scanned and the electronic files sent, the customer manages all future storage as he or she sees fit. In my case, I will make multiple backups and will make sure the backups are stored in several different locations for safe keeping. I will use the L.O.C.K.S.S. method (Lots Of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe.) Luckily, this is easy to do and the online storage expenses are far cheaper than paying for a larger home to store all the physical books.

Prices for the scanning service seem reasonable:

Books: $1 for 100 pages (so scanning a 300-page book will cost $3)
Documents: $1 for 10 pages
Business cards: $1 for 10 cards
Photographs: $1 for 10 photos
Greeting cards: $1 per card

1DollarScan promises that future services will include saving all scanned materials directly to a shared Dropbox folder with no CD or DVD disks required. 1DollarScan will scan the books, perform the OCR text conversion, and the customer will receive electronic copies within minutes.

The company is also promising a future service of shipments directly from You will be able to buy a book on and specify it be shipped directly to 1DollarScan. The company will then scan the book, send the electronic version to you, and dispose of the paper copy as you specify.

I'd suggest this is a great service for genealogists and for many others as well. I won't use it for scanning everything I plan to digitize, but I do hope to send most of the "tedious" scanning to 1DollarScan. I still plan to scan my fragile materials and valuable items myself.

You can learn more about 1DollarScan's services at

My thanks to newsletter reader "Stony" Stonebraker for telling me about 1DollarScan.

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