How to scan school books into PDFs

Legal disclaimer: Scanning books might not be allowed where you live. I do not advise to destroy books that you do not own. I do not encourage passing around pdfs of scanned books.

Problem: You are a student and your back hurts. Your school lets you bring a tablet / pc but you still have paper school books. (That you own!)

I was that student, so I scanned them! (Of course only the book that was written by my teacher, that he allowed me to scan.)


  1. Scan each page from hand: works, but will take a long time. Also the scan will not be that nice.
  2. Put a camera on a tripod and photograph the pages, then use software to recognize the pages and turn it into a proper scan. This is probably the best way, if you can make it work.
  3. Take a big paper cutter and cut the binding off. Then put the pages into the Automatic Document Feeder of a scanner (do not put all of them at once). Create a PDF and run OCR software on the pdf so it becomes searchable.

Back then I chose option 3. Sadly the book loses it's binding in the process. Scanning a whole book this way takes about 1-2 hours.

This definitely made going to school a lot more pleasant. I'm hoping students don't have to lug their books around with them anymore. It is obvious that too much weight on the back is unhealthy to growing humans.