July 15, 2024

Yes, the iPad is amazing. Ok, sure, there are some other makers coming out with devices too. Regardless of what you get, you are probably at some point going to want to convert some of your tattered books into digital format. But how? What should I use?

Fear not, here are some guidelines to do it as I’ve converted quite a few of my old books that were falling apart into excellent PDFs. First, you need a scanner. A sheet feed scanner on something like a Brother 7340. I used a Brother 7420 myself, and it works great. Good Macintosh support. You could use a lot of other different solutions as well, but you really need to have a sheetfeeder scanner (ie: you can put 20+ pages on it and let it do it’s stuff).

Second, you need some sort of paper cutter to cut the bindings off, and any books that are oversized (like Rubank) need to be trimmed a little to fit in the scanner’s sheetfeeder. You can use scissors I suppose, but a paper cutter is easier, cleaner, and does it better.

For scanning, I’ve found that 300dpi B&W uncompressed TIFF is the way to go. I don’t do JPG or compressed TIFF because I am going to let the PDF part of the process do all the compression when I’m ready. I put in a stack of pages in the sheet feeder, and have it go. When its done, then I put the other side through the scanner. When that is all done, I go through the scans and number them (01…09….20….etc) and make sure that the scanner didn’t take two or more pages in by mistake (it will happen) and to see that they pages have all the stuff on the page (as in nothing was cut off during the scan). The cover and back I’ll generally use the flatbed scanner on the unit to make color scans. The covers are usually thicker anyways and don’t go through the feeder well (if at all).

Ok, so, now you have all these TIFFs, I use Adobe Acrobat to assemble them (“Combine Files into PDF”). The middle setting (lower right filesize) is the setting I use, into a Single PDF file. You also need to make sure the pages are in order then go.

Acrobat will then assemble all the files together, and display the result. Now, the next thing to do, which is why I use Acrobat, is to use the Tools->Recognize Text. Why you say? Well, it does OCR any text in the PDF, which is helpful if you need to search something, but it also will do things like straighten any crooked pages and stuff. Little things that will make your PDF look great. So run it. When it is done, then do an Apple-D and type in info for the PDF like the title, author, some key words. Then save.

Done! Now you have a nice digital copy for yourself. It is really great using the iPad to practice with, it remembers where you were in each PDF, and you can make bookmarks (which can transfer to your computer), etc. Notes. Great stuff. Here is an example page

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