How to convert a book to PDF+Text

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005
One step on my paperless challenge mind map is to convert my 1096 page "Law for Business" text book into a searchable PDF file. Why PDF+TEXT? Beyond the obvious ability to search for text, Adobe Acrobat allows me to highlight text and then review only the highlights as a summary. (See yesterday's entry on highlighting Acrobat documents on the Tablet PC).

My book scanning station

I've used several different tools to convert documents and books into searchable PDF+Text files. Today, I decided to start simple and use my OpticBook 3600 Book Scanner and Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional to create the files. Here are the steps I used.Once I got the routine down, it actually went reasonably quickly. (I only scanned the first two chapters of my business law text this week.) The most tedious part, and it really wasn't that tedious, was the steps to tell Adobe to merge, create, and OCR the files. I plan to experiment with other tools, such as OmniPage Pro and Adobe Capture among others. These tools allow me to automate the process.

Meanwhile, here are the steps that I used this afternoon.

Launch PlusTek OpticBook 3600 Action Manager (I choose not to keep this in my startup group)

Power on Book Scanner

Launch book scanner preview

   Press "Book" Button
   Press "Book Pilot" button.

Adjust book scanner settings

   Select Gray scale scan

   Adjust the scanning zone

   Select Rotate 180 on even

   Select TIFF output

   Click on CLOSE

Start scanning the book

   Click on the Black SCAN button. This will bring up the preview window

   Click on the Black SCAN button again; this will start the first scan

   Rotate the book and click scan again

   Repeat as needed

   Click CLOSE to exit book scanner

Optional: Take a quick look with windows explorer for page orientation & sequence

Create a PDF file from TIFF files. (Several ways to do this. Right now, I'm using Adobe Acrobat Pro 7.0)

   Open Adobe Acrobat

   Select "Create PDF from Multiple Files"

   Navigate to directory where book scanner placed files. Select the files. Click OK

   This will create a PDF file. Designate the target file. I use the format: Book Title + "Chapter XX"  Example:
           "Law for Business - Chapter 01"

Convert the PDF file to searchable PDF+TEXT using Adobe Acrobat built-in OCR

   Open PDF document in Acrobat (It should still be open from previous step

   Select DOCUMENT, RECOGNIZE OCR, START.   Select "ALL Pages" and press OK

   When OCR is complete, click SAVE icon

   This will create a searchable PDF+Text file

   Delete the source TIFF files

Discussion/Comments (35):

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

Just out of curiosity, how long did the process take? Scanning, pdf'ing and converting?


Posted at 11/03/2005 4:37:16 by Fred Beiderbecke

How to convert a book to PDF+Text


I have a good bit of scanning experience, and a little bit of experience with OCR.

Did you know that Acrobat version 6 & 7 will nativly scan (I don't know about older versions) and OCR pages? That would eliminate the step you have making the tiff files and then deleting them. The scan dialog will even nativly let you add pages to the scan.

The "Create PDF From Scanner" command is what you're looking for.


Posted at 11/03/2005 5:20:47 by Jamie Price

How long to scan & convert to PDF

The process goes reasonably fast. Of course, there's still manual labor involved in flipping the book. For me, I listen to tape and I actually find that the page previews give me a heads-up on what I'll be studying, so I don't mind the investment. The real payoff for me, is in the note-taking and enhanced study that i can do with a digital copy.

I'll note scan times in a future blog post.

Posted at 11/03/2005 23:39:55 by Eric Mack

Using Acrobat 7 to convert a book to PDF+Text

Jamie, I'm aware of the Acrobat "Create PDF from Scanner" feature, however, it's not nearly as easy or as fast as using the BookPilot software. The BookPilot software can process images about as fast as I can flip the pages of the book. When I invoke the scanner from within Acrobat, I get the TWAIN scanner interface, which is not nearly as pretty or as fast. Ultimately, I'll automate the conversion to PDF with either Acrobat Capture or Omnipage Pro. I'm still evaluateing a variety of tools.


Posted at 11/03/2005 23:56:25 by Eric Mack

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

I an really interested in your experiment, I want to get rid of some of my book, so I was thinking about converting them in PDF...

1- Are you happy with the Optic Book Scanner?

2- Is it Fast?

3- What resolution are you using for scanning?

Posted at 11/09/2005 16:39:55 by Jean Boucher

Is it legal to scan a textbook?

Creating such PDF+text versions of the book would make be a very useful tool. However would scanning "Law for Busines" to produce an electronic version be lawfull or are there copyright law issues?

Posted at 11/27/2005 3:42:26 by Pascal Venier

re: Is it legal to scan a textbook?

Pascal, you bring up an excellent question - one I've been thinking about as I was on the road earlier this week. I'll respond to your question on my Blog but starting a new discussion of this topic. I think it is one that merits discussion as new digital tools make it possible for us to use materials (in this case a purchased book) in new ways, perhaps unenvisioned by the authors (e.g. reading it on a Tablet PC). I'd like to start a discussion on the copyright issue from both the perspective of the copyright holder and the user. I'll collect my thoughts and post something soon. Thanks for posting your question!


Posted at 11/30/2005 18:50:22 by Eric Mack

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

Is the OCR accurate or did you find some manual work needed?

Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

Posted at 12/07/2005 7:05:46 by Robert

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

I have a lot of spare money for scanning my library of tens of thousands of books and a set of mainland Chinese to turn pages in them all for me at low cost (unbelievably low). BUT for the life of me I cannot fathom why any scanner is needed for all this. The super duper 150k$ machine uses a 16meg digital camera we all can now buy for $4000, that plus a stand plus two lights, plus a "cradle" for holding the book as some decent flatness or angle and you have it. Who needs some manufacturer to jack up the price and lower the performance? I must be missing something very fundamental (I am old enough to know I have missed fundamentals many times before). What am I missing? (besides brains and commonsense)? [plus I get a decent digital SLR camera to use as a camera not a scanner of book pages]

Professor in Japan with resources but no sense.

Posted at 01/21/2006 6:51:52 by richard greene

DIY - Automatic Book Scanner


Here's a great robotics project for the girls! A fully automated book scanner made from Legos:

{ Link }

Posted at 02/23/2006 16:54:28 by Mark R

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

After scanning the pictures, I notic probelms as they don't line up one image after the othe but they can stand side by side, which I don't like. Is there a way where I merge them in such an organized fashion in Adobe Acrobat Pro? I want pictures to be both even, nothing standing nex to each other, but on top of each other in a way that would encourage reading and learing.


Posted at 03/02/2006 21:14:30 by Ibrahim

How to convert a book to PDF+Text


{ Link }

Posted at 04/26/2006 20:54:37 by tom

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

I'm a student with a pretty bad case of dyslexia. I have since been able to read large amounts of material due to a program I have purchased call text help. It reads back to me PDF files. The trouble is if the text book the Profs Give was written before 99 then there is little or no chance I can get a PDF of the book. I am looking for a company that I can send my text books to so they can be scanned. I realize that the book will most likely not be able to be used afterwards, but that’s fine with me. Can your company help me our at least send me in the right direction.

Jim Dell

Posted at 06/15/2007 7:59:06 by jim dell

re: How to convert a book to PDF+Text

Jim, check with campus services. Many offer book scanning services. Otherwise, search for "Book scanning" in Google. I hope this helps. Eric

Posted at 06/19/2007 10:48:54 by Eric Mack

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

my school is to small to handle it .but i'm near columbia

Posted at 06/20/2007 12:55:29 by jim dell

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

Hi there,

good day

I would Like to ask you if this machine works with arabic texts,cause as I know it is only converts english texts.

Thank you

Posted at 10/21/2007 3:08:03 by Mohammad

re: How to convert a book to PDF+Text

The scanner only converts images to TIFF. from there, you use the conversion software to do the OCR. I use Acrobat, which works great. If you have a version of Acrobat (or another OCR program) that will convert to your language, then it will work. I hope this helps.

Posted at 10/21/2007 10:03:36 by Eric Mack

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

You might want to take a look at BookSnap. The world's first consumer book scanner. ({ Link })

Posted at 12/10/2007 23:24:37 by Booker

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

Do you know of any place that will do this for you?

Posted at 08/13/2008 7:03:57 by April

re: How to convert a book to PDF+Text

No, unfortunately, I do not.

Posted at 08/13/2008 10:27:11 by Eric Mack

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

Are you able to highlight, copy and paste the end product?

Posted at 09/07/2008 19:00:12 by John

re: How to convert a book to PDF+Text

Yes. That's not a function of the scanning but of the software you use to view the end-result. Acrobat, BlueBeam review, and other products all permit highlighting and annotation.

Posted at 09/07/2008 20:20:05 by Eric Mack

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

do you need a specific scanner like book scanner to be able to scan the pages of a book?

i have a regular scanner called samsung scx-4100. if i try to scan one page it turns out to be large like 10+ mb. im trying to scan a book that is 198 pages. or any scanner is able to do that but you have to set any setting so it would come out too large in size??? 10 mb is a lot for a scanned page of mines?? someone please help thanks.

Posted at 12/10/2008 15:02:05 by Lee

re: How to convert a book to PDF+Text

Lee, for the reasons stated, plus the convenience of software and ability to scan in creases of the book, I recommend a book scanner. As far as image size, raw images can be 10MB per page, but once converted to PDF they will be quite small.

Posted at 12/10/2008 15:09:23 by Eric Mack

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

i see. thanks well my scanned page is like 150 resolution(and i chose true color just for a book with black ink) ((would it be better in black and white or grayscale?? for some reason those turned out to be like 3-4 mb an image)) and it says 6 mb but after finished scanning the page are pretty clear and comes out only at 1mb almost 2 mb. i'm scanning about 123 images(1 image has 2 pages scanned)? do u think if i compress it be more than 50 mb ? i see lots of ebook about 200 pages comes out to be about 20-30 mb at most. i dont want it to be so big.

Posted at 12/18/2008 1:34:59 by Lee

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

I want to be able to find newest edition textbooks online in pdf format at little or no cost. If I scan my textbook to pdf and email it to someone personally, I'm sure that's ok, but what about giving the file to other classmates? Do you know if this would be considered mass distribution?

Posted at 04/12/2009 19:17:52 by Jennifer Simms CNA RSD

re: How to convert a book to PDF+Text

It does not matter if you do it for free or profit, you maybe violating the terms of the copyright. I strongly encourage you to check with the copyright holder before you scan a copyrighted item and distribute it to others.

Posted at 04/12/2009 20:09:05 by Eric Mack

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

The Microsoft Document Scanning application works great for this and is pretty quick. If you have Office installed, you should have it.

Posted at 08/28/2009 10:44:20 by John

the copy right laws

Hi I was wondering is it legal to copy txt books to pdf to make them obtainable for other students? Im a college student and as you know paying for school is getting harder and when our txt books are selling for half the price of a class at a community college something needs to be done. I was thinking if it was possible to pay the publisher like a monthly fee to get txt books on "Kindle" or on a website to help drive down the cost of college. I was wondering if you could give me some insight on this subject.

Posted at 09/05/2009 15:33:10 by Guy

re: the copy right laws

Sorry. Not legal. It's one thing to scan your own book for your own use. It's another matter to provide your book to someone else. Don't even go there. Best bet is to contact the publisher and let them know you want to buy a digital version...

Posted at 09/05/2009 22:39:13 by Eric Mack

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

This technique is pretty good, but outdated.

Yes you will get good quality, but this will take you forever, i don't know how fast the scanner is but the flipping will take long.

Best i found is to use a good digital camera with "document mode", or an expensive DSLR camera. Adobe 7+ will recognize text as long as the camera has takes pics at dpi 144 (thousand Megapixel won't help here, thats a different thing), adobe 9 will do with dpi 72 (not as good), however dpi 300 is optimal which is standard for scanning.

I guess this method works good if you buy the scanner mentioned here.

Posted at 09/20/2009 16:36:46 by Greatwolf

Use a book scanning service instead?

If you don't want to take the time to scan page by page, you can always send your books to a book scanning company, and they will do it for you. Many of these companies either have a minimum order, or high prices. But I was able to find one that is pretty cheap;

According to their website, $0.04/page, starting at $14.95.


Posted at 12/11/2009 12:38:19 by sample007

forgot to mention

I forgot to also mention, they not only scan to searchable PDF, but also to audiobook and eBook as well.

Posted at 12/11/2009 12:40:47 by sample007

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

we have lot of books in our library, We want to convert that books to digital library. So we are ready to scan and converting books to E-Library. But that books all in copyright applicable in-case we will convert the books means any problem will come. And that books all for our students library functions only. That all books will product for print, Copy, Paste & editing, and this book will ready only 7 days. After that u want put Soft Key for that then only u can read that document. any body read this comment please replay any problems in this process....




Posted at 03/09/2010 4:09:16 by Shan

How to convert a book to PDF+Text

i can't read all the text book in i need the hard copy of that.but the book is not coverting in to pdf formate.can you help me!

i hope you do!



Posted at 06/25/2010 3:29:26 by rk

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