The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.
Scanning an entire book usually is a difficult task, at best. Turning the pages manually and holding the book on a typical desktop scanner is a tedious process for a typical volume of 200 pages or more. The other problem is "curl." That is, the binding is such that most books will not lie flat on the scanner and the resultant image looks poor. Trying to convert those images to text using OCR (optical text recognition) is probably impossible.
NOTE: You can find a description of optical character recognition at http://www.computerworld.com/softwaretopics/software/apps/story/0,10801,73023,00.html. You can find pointers to many OCR articles at http://searchsmallbizit.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,290660,sid44_gci214132,00.html.
The usual solution to both of these issues is to cut the binding off the book and then use a scanner that has an automatic document feeder. The automatic document feeders work in a similar manner to a photocopy machine or FAX machine: insert a stack of papers, press a button and then walk away. The machine automatically selects one page at a time, inserts it and then scans the page.
However, many of us are reluctant to cut the bindings from our valuable books. Thanks to modern technology, there is a better solution.
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