Tag Archives: scanning

Best Practices To Scan Old Books into PDFs

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

The Apple iPad…..Revolution

Ok, so, unless you have been living in a Cave, you know that there was a great event held on Wednesday. Something all the media covered. Something everyone was waiting for with baited breath. Steve Jobs announced the fabled Apple Tablet. (And some guy named Obuma was doing some standup comedy later in the evening as well).

A lot of Gadget people were bemoaning the lack of this or that. No camera (front or rear), no USB, no HDMI, no Verizon, no Multitasking, no FLASH. Waaa! Sadly, these people are missing the point. It does need to have these things and was designed not to (except maybe the camera…rumors are that there was a prototype version that had one, and the software seems to have hooks for them).

So, what does this mean? And what does this mean for musicians. Can start scanning all our books into the computer? Can we ditch that lame electronic music things like this, this and this? Well, for traditional musicians, I think that scanning your music is a music regardless of what you plan on viewing it on. It might sound like a waste of time, but when you can’t find that book of etudes by so and so that you know you have but don’t know what happened to it….and that it is out of print. Yeah, you’ll be happy that you had the foresight to scan a copy for your archive. Now, viewing music that was made for 8 1/2″ by 11″ pieces of paper on a 9.56″ x 7.47″ device (slightly smaller actual viewing area)? Dunno. Obviously the music would need to be scaled down. Would that make it unreadable then? Dunno. However, if the music is formatted for that size, it would be no problem. Perhaps some witty programmer will design a program that will slice up music PDFs and make them more viewable. I for one plan on offering up iPad versions of stuff here. So, people with iPad can practice the tomb of II/V patterns, or Brecker solos, or whatever.

I think the bigger impact is going to be the cool apps for this. If you have an iPhone/iTouch, you already know all the handy apps out there for it. Now, increase the screen size 3 times and make it faster……can we say mixing applications? Slowdown apps? Multitrack recording device? Practice tool? Tuner? Hmmm….

Managing The Paper Clutter

I don’t know about most people, but I have stacks of paper all over the place. Articles out of magazines I thought were interesting, old manuscript paper, etc, etc. For receipts, I have been in the practice of scanning those for a while, for taxes and stuff. But the paper stacks, I try to scan them, but it just takes too long (there are a LOT of stacks, and they are fairly thick). My Epson CX6600 is good, but scanning takes a lot of time. And then, there is the “what now” problem.

A sheet feed scanner sounds like a great solution. Fujitsu makes this ScanSnap product that can, supposedly, do up to 18 double sided pages a minute. It’s a good chunk of change though, nearly $500 (they have some rebates going at the moment). It does come bundled with Adobe Acrobat 8 though. Plus, it has some OCR stuff which will allow the scanned things to be searchable.

I had, years ago, a Visoneer Paperport that was great, but it died.

Getting rid of paper is a definite goal, but is it really worth the $$? Having all Continue reading Managing The Paper Clutter