5 Best Book Scanners | #1 Does Automatic Scanning in 2020

Best Book Scanner

Buying a book scanner is difficult enough, but buying the best book scanner can prove more difficult than you can imagine. You can choose from automatic book scanners, with standard or Vshaped book cradle, and even semi automatic scanning devices. 

If you want to do proper book scanning, and efficiently capture all the pages from a book, then you need a professional book scanner. A portable scanner, or a commercial book scanner like the Czurt et16 plus, will never provide the results a high end vshaped book scanner or a robotic book scanner will deliver. 

No Brand and Model Product grade Page turning Scanning size Optical resolution Price
1 Book Scanning Services

Book Scanning Services

Professional Manual / Semi Automatic / Fully Automatic 450 x 635mm up to 600dpi Check the price
2 Czur ET16

Consumer / Hobby Manual 297 x 420mm 275dpi Check the price on Amazon
3 Fujitsu Scansnap SV600

Consumer / Hobby Manual 300 x 432mm 280dpi Check the price on Amazon
4 SMA ScanMaster 2

005 SMA Scanmaster 2 Thumbnail

Industrial Grade Semi Automatic and Full Automatic 450 x 635mm 1200dpi
5 SMA RoboScan 2

SMA Roboscan V2 Automatic Book Scanner

Industrial Grade Full Automatic 460 x 640mm 600dpi Check the price

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    1. The best automatic book scanner
    2. Best professional book scanner
    3. Best Consumer Book Scanner

Characteristics of the best book scanner in 2020

The best book scanner is the scanning equipment that:

  • Captures the pages of a book, periodical, manuscript or any graphic art bound document.
  • Does the scanning at high resolution, without damaging the paper and the integrity of the bound book.
  • Has a special book cradle and a high-resolution camera. Those are calculated so you can achieve the maximum scan quality.
  • The book stays on the book cradle face up and the camera captures each page individually.

Why use a special book scanner

We will start by looking at a simple situation. You have a 300-page book and you need to scan it. You have the following alternatives: 

  1. Send it to a service provider. Overnight-scanning.eu is a good scanning provider and they can digitize a book for you. You can choose another book-scanning company if you want.  We are sure there are enough out there so always ask for examples of the scanned results. They offer the desired file format delivered to your inbox, after scanning.
  2. Scan the book on a flatbed scanner or on a multifunctional device. This is also a viable option. The only problem is that you will have a lot of work to do. It will require you to flip the page, turn the book and press scan at least 150 times. This will definitely get you tired if not annoyed.
  3. Buy a professional book scanner. This equipment is usually an overhead scanner for books. That means the book stays face up and you only flip the page. There are also automatic book scanners which will flip the pages for you. Diy book scanners can be an interesting too, but they requires a lot of work before you actually start scanning. 

Given what we are talking about in this article, we will consider that point 1 can’t be chosen. Therefore you either have to scan the book on a flatbed or buy a professional book scanner.

Let’s say you constantly need to scan books. You will definitely have to buy a professional book scanner. It is more efficient, it will save you a lot of time, and you will scan more books in less time. Especially if you buy an automatic book scanner, this will go through the pages much faster.

How does a book scanner work

The simple way in which a book scanner works is the following: 

  1. Lay your material on the book cradle with the book and document facing up. . 
  2. Open the book and go to the first page
  3. Press the scan button and capture the first pages. 
  4. The scanning software will take the scan and crop the images through the middle. 
  5. When the pages have been separated and you are satisfied with the captured images, turn the page. 
  6. If you have flipped the page you can hit the scan button again. 
  7. Repeat this process until the entire book has been scanned. 

What you see above is a general description of how a book scanner works. Depending on equipment and manufacturer, there are certain steps that will be different. 

In the case of automatic book scanners, they will automatically flip turn the pages for you, making the entire process more simple. 

Compared to a document scanner, this will not damage the book during scanning, but the pages per minute value will be lower. Still, it will be faster than a flatbed scanner for sure.

At the same time, you need to get the book scanner from a reliable source. Unlike document scanners, you need suppliers with experience in this field.

We have seen devices like the Iriscan Book being advertised as book scanners. This is not the case in real life. While they can capture a couple of pages, they don’t have a 300 dpi optical resolution. I think this is a mandatory value for any book scanning work.

Specifications of a good book scanner

We will look over the characteristics that make a good book scanner. While you probably know some of these aspects, some will surprise you.

  • Scanning Resolution – Don’t confuse resolution with quality. Resolution is one of the quality factors. When you look at scans, always consider the optical resolution. For scanning books, 200dpi should be ok for reading the content of the book. Use 300dpi for OCR and electronic archiving. We see 400 and 600dpi only for high-quality images, fine art or reprint.
  • Scanning Quality – The quality should be consistent over the entire surface of the page. This means lighting, color and tones. You should see even lightning across the pages and their background. Check for color consistency and also the color accuracy. 
  • Scanning Size –  As you know, most books are up to A4 in size when closed. This means that in theory, an A3 book scanner should do. To be on the safe side, always buy a larger scanner, for such books only.
  • Productivity – Speed and productivity go hand in hand. Potential speed does not always mean high productivity. While in theory, an automatic book scanner is faster than a manual one, that is not always the case. Automatic scanners are not recommended for heavily damaged documents. A manual scanner will always be faster in practice, but keep in mind, you need a height adjustable cradle.
  • Life expectancy – For a professional book scanning machine, you will be paying a lot of money. The longer the operating life, the cheaper the cost per page will be. Some manufacturers claim that their machines can do in excess of 5 million pages.
  • Cost – Book scanner will cost you from hundreds of dollars to over a hundred thousand in some cases. This price varies depending on the size of the machine, quality, productivity, and speed.

Why use an overhead scanner for books

The only viable option to scan lots of books is to use an overhead scanner. You might ask yourself why this is.

Professional book scanners were developed by companies that previously built microfilm cameras. Before scanning, microfilming was the solution to preserve documents for longer periods and also reduce storage space.

Initially, the microfilm camera was nothing more than a standard film camera. As the years went by, manufacturers integrated these cameras into complex systems. They quickly understood that it had to be user-friendly in order to microfilm a lot of pages.

Best Book Scanner - Microfilm Camera System
Best Book Scanner – Microfilm Camera System

The systems they built had the following characteristics:

  • A microfilming table where the book or document was laying face up so it could ease the process.
  • Very good lighting system to provide the user with better filming quality.
  • A glass plate to press and even out the document.
  • Special self-leveling book cradle for greater efficiency and fewer re-scans.

As you can see, the current book scanner works in the same logic. The only difference is that it uses a digital camera system rather than an analog one.

Best Book Scanner - Modern Book Scanner
Best Book Scanner – Modern Book Scanner

Of course, as time goes on, book scanner manufacturers improve their systems with innovative features. So is the case with the Bookeye 4 V3 Kiosk, which has numerous options and features.

If you compare it to the Fujitsu Scansnap sv600 overhead book scanner for example, you’ll understand what we mean. 

Best Consumer Book Scanner

This is the best consumer book scanner, we would definitely go with the Fujitsu Scansnap SV600. Read more about the model, by checking our article on buying a book scanner from Amazon.

You can follow this link to check the price on Amazon for the SV600.

There are many things we like about this scanner, but we will try and be brief about it.

  • We like the price of the machine. You can’t buy a professional scanner for 600 dollars. Still, the Fujitsu does a decent job for this price tag.
  • The optical scanning resolution is nearly 300dpi. This is good enough for decent quality and for a lot of books successful OCR is possible.
  • It features a linear camera. This means that the lighting systems and the camera sensor move together. The result is even lighting and quality over the entire surface of a page.
  • It has a curvature correction system. This scanner does not have a self-leveling book cradle, therefore we need something to correct the curvature. It does a decent job, although it will not work properly all the time.
  • The product is built by Fujitsu and it offers a manufacturer warranty. They will swap your machine if it goes wrong, which is a big plus.

The verdict is that the Fujitsu SV600 is a decent machine at a decent price tag. It does entry-level book scanning but nothing more.

Look at it as a document camera and not a full-on book scanner. It will scan your average book without any issues, although it’s still lacking compared to a professional scanner.

There are alternative book image document camera scanner available out there, such as the koolertron book professional book document scanner. Alternatively, you can try an Epson Perfection flatbed scanner. 

At the same time it is a scanner with smart OCR for mac and windows, which is great, especially in the scanning world. But you will mostly use it as an advanced document camera, nothing more.

Best professional book scanner

The SMA Scanmaster is a professional book scanner. You will get high quality book scanning at a decent pages per minute value. 

Our choice for a professional book scanner will always be the SMA Scanmaster 2. Why is that you may ask?

  • It scans books that open up to A2+. The scanning surface is greater than C size. 99% of the books in this world are smaller than this. There aren’t many situations in which a book will be too big.
  • The optical scanning resolution goes up to 1200dpi. Although you will mostly be scanning at 300dpi, it’s great to know the level of details you can capture.
  • Motorized book cradle. The book cradle in this scanner is self-leveling and motorized. It goes up and down by itself, and automatically levels when touching the glass plate. For ergonomics, the scanner is a dream. All you have to do is just flip the page, as the book cradle is automatically height adjustable.
  • Scanning quality is second to none. There is literally no book scanner out there with better scanning quality. The lighting system is perpendicular to the document 100% of the time. Even tones and light, resulting in near-perfect color accuracy on your scanned images.
  • You will love the build quality. Honestly, this scanner is built like a tank. It will work for many years without letting you down. And when something breaks, you can repair it quickly.

SMA is probably the fastest-growing company in the book scanning market. This isn’t by accident. Their products are well built with an emphasis on scanning operators and efficiency.

A Top Tip regarding the Scanmaster 2 model is that it can be upgraded to a fully automatic book scanner. SMA now offers this an optional to new customers and as an upgrade to past customers.

The best automatic book scanner

There are currently 2 automatic book scanners that we can recommend you to buy. The Treventus is an A4 size (2 times A4 ) book scanner, while the Roboscan V2 goes all the way up to A2. Given the type of documents you will be scanning, we suggest being careful which one you want to buy.

These scanners do not exclude one another, and especially for larger projects they can be used together, for processing different type of books.  I would say the Roboscan V2 is an easy to use scanner, but the Treventus is not far behind it. 

SMA RoboScan V2 – The most versatile automatic book scanner

The SMA Roboscan V2 is definitely the best all rounder when it comes to book scanning. It’s based on the 2nd gen line camera book scanners and it’s a semi automatic or manual book scanner all in one. 

It offers 3 different scanning modes and will probably be able to scan just about any book up to A2 in size.

  • Manual Book Scanning – This mode will work perfectly when you have fragile books. When you enable this mode, you can scan with or without the V or Flat Scanning Glass. Yes, you can choose to scan with or without the flattening glass.
  • Semi Automatic Mode – In this mode, the scanner will do everything automatically, except for page turning. The flattening glass will go up and down without the operators intervention, leaving you just to turn the page.
  • Automatic Mode – When scanning in automatic mode, you can leave all your worries aside. The scanner will do everything, including turning the page of the book. It is perfect for unattended scanning, or for an operator to handle more than one scanner. It’s what you would call a fast book scanner for higher overall scanning speed. 

The scanner offers all of the productivity tools you will expect with a high end bookscanner. It has a powerful scanning software that is combined with Smart OCR and a lot of processing features you will need. Being a linear book scanner, it offers great quality while maintaining fast scanning.

All in all, this is a versatile device, and it’s like a swiss army knife. It’s not bigger than other bookscanners ( actually it’s a bit smaller ) but it can scan just about anything. Also, it’s one of the only automated book scanners. Highly recommended!

Treventus ScanRobot 2.0 MDS – High Speed Book Scanning

The Treventus ScanRobot 2.0MDS is the only scanner that scans by itself 99% of the time. It’s the only choice for a full-on automatic book scanner.

We know the models available on the market. This is by far the fastest, the most efficient and the most polished model out there. The Treventus Mechatronics product can capture book pages automatically, and works with a vshaped book cradle. 

  • Automatic page turning is done by page suction and air. It’s gentle to the book and will never damage it. This approach increases efficiency as the equipment scans each page while turning it. No time is lost in the process for greater productivity. 
  • Scanning Resolution is 300 or 400dpi. You may think it’s on the lower side. In practice, you will never go above it. This machine is built for scanning large collections of books. 
  • Scanning Quality is very good. The page is sucked onto the camera sensor, therefore it will always lay flat. This, in turn, leads to better overall quality and color consistency. 
  • The book scanning software is the most advanced software in the market. It features standard workflows and custom ones. You can post-process scans in the software. If you build a customized image processing workflow, it will all be done automatically. 
  • OCR is integrated into the software.  After scanning, the files are taken automatically to the OCR module. No manual intervention. This leads to significant increases in productivity. 

When you see the machine in real life, you’ll quickly understand why it’s the best one. Other automatic book scanners have an auto function, but it depends a lot on the book you are scanning. 

And when they flip the pages automatically it takes a lot of time. The Treventus scanner just breezes through, at 2500 pages per hour. 

Our Verdict

It’s never a straight answer when talking about the best book scanner out there.

  • When you need a quick capture system for books and documents, then the SV600 is your choice. It has a very low price tag, and for quick scans, it’s good enough. Remember, you won’t process a lot of books with it. It’s not fast enough. You use it for those occasional scans where an average scan is good enough.
  • If you scan books professionally, then the Scanmaster 2 should be your choice. It’s built sturdy and will last a lifetime. The scanning quality is almost perfect and the ergonomics are there for continuous scanning. It can also scan over A2 in size, which is a big plus.
  • When you need an automatic book scanner the Treventus Scanrobot should be your pick. It’s by far the most expensive one, but you should buy it only when you have to scan a lot. This means scanning providers, libraries or other companies that do a lot of book scanning.

We hope that this guide will give you all the information you need. Buying your next book scanner should be an easier task now.

FAQ

Here you can find some of the questions we get from our readers. If you want this explained further, please go ahead and contact us. 

What does a book scanner do?

A book scanner or a book scanning machine is specifically built to make book scanning and digitization more efficient. The equipment is designed to accommodate mainly books and bound documents, having different characteristics and features which make the process easier to handle.

Which scanner is best for scanning pages books?

Currently, the best scanner for scanning books is the SMA Roboscan V2. This equipment provides huge versatility, as it offers the possibility to scan with or without a flattening glass, in manual, semi-automatic and fully automatic mode. It also has a scanning area that exceeds A2, which is enough for 99% of the books out there.

How much does it cost to scan a book? 

The price for scanning a book will depend on certain elements such as book size, color or bitonal, the age of the book and the provider that is doing the service. For example, www.overnight-scanning.eu charges as low as 0.07 € for a page.  Usually, the price is calculated per page and depending on the total volume of books and pages, a service provider might charge more or less, depending on the volume of work. 

How do I scan a book into PDF? 

To scan a book into PDF, you first have to scan each of the pages from that book. After scanning, process and correct the images and send them to an OCR software. During the optical character recognition process, images are turned into readable text, which can then be delivered as PDF or even as a word file. 

How long does it take to scan a book?

The time it takes to scan a book will vary depending on the equipment and software you are using. Also, an experienced operator can significantly reduce the overall processing time. For example, with a 1000 pages per hour scanner, you should be able to scan a 300 page book in around half an hour. This includes most set up times and also downtime which will happen during the scanning process. 


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