My Progress on Digitizing all my Old Genealogy Books

A newsletter reader wrote today and asked an embarrassing question:

“Over a year ago you said you were trying to scan 50 pages a day to get rid of most paper copies of books. How is that going??? Would be interested in reading more, esp. what programs, etc. you are using. I’ve been inclined to do the same, but with me it’s a “now and then if I’m totally bored” process.”

I must admit that I am a bit embarrassed that my progress has slowed down. There are multiple reasons: (1.) I spend my summers up north and my winters in the sunbelt which means the books to be digitized always seem to be in “the other place,” (2.) I travel a lot which is a good excuse for procrastinating on all sorts of plans, and (3.) I suffer from a severe case of general procrastination. I was going to join the Procrastinators’ Club of America but haven’t gotten around to it. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procrastinators%27_Club_of_America and http://articles.latimes.com/1987-06-21/news/mn-9001_1_story-tomorrow for details concerning that organization.)

Luckily, I have found many of my genealogy books are already available in digital formats on Archive.org, Google Books, and numerous other web sites. If one of my books has already been digitized, I simply save the digitized version to my local hard drive and to the backup services, then throw away the paper copy. That has saved me a lot of work.

However, I have found an excellent method of digitizing my remaining books: give the work to someone else and let that company do the work for a rather modest price.

I wrote about the 1DollarScan service in the June 21, 2018 edition of this newsletter. The article is still available at: https://blog.eogn.com/2018/06/21/scan-and-digitize-your-books-for-1-each/. As I wrote in that article:

“One simple rule in my life has served me well: Any time I need to perform a task that is too difficult or too expensive for me to do it myself, I can always hire someone else to do it! In fact, I find that philosophy often saves money as well. Luckily, there are several scanning services that will cut bindings off books and scan them at modest prices.”

I am still using the services of 1DollarScan (when I get around to it) and recommend the service highly. No, I am not compensated in any way to recommend the company’s services. I am simply a satisfied customer who is enthusiastic about the service.

In short, I doubt if I will ever scan any more of my books. It is easier and perhaps cheaper to send them to 1DollarScan. That is, using 1DollarScan or a similar service probably is cheaper than purchasing a $400+ scanner with a built-in sheet feeder and also avoiding the need to purchase a $700+ guillotine-style cutter to cut the bindings off the books.

NOTE: I already own a sheet-feed scanner but it is presently in my other home. I haven’t yet spent the money for a guillotine-style cutter and probably never will. At those prices, I can have 1DollarScan digitize a lot of books for me!

One thing that I like is that 1DollarScan and similar services apparently can legally digitize even modern books and magazines that are still under copyright. They do that by throwing away (recycling) the paper copies after they have been digitized, thereby avoiding problems with copyrights.

NOTE: I’ll leave it to the lawyers to discuss the legalities involved. All I know is that no author or publisher ever sues anyone for making a duplicate copy of a printed work in a different format and then destroying the original.

Of course, once I receive a digitized book, either one I digitized myself or digital books I obtained elsewhere, I make multiple backup copies and store them in multiple places. I keep a copy on the hard drives of my desktop computers at home, a copy on external hard drives, a copy on flash drives, and a copy kept in a private section of a file storage service in the cloud that I pay for. As a result, I have quick and convenient access to any and all of my digitized books wherever I am, at home, at a genealogy conference, while riding in an airplane (many airliners now have wi-fi access to the Internet), or when in a hotel room in Norway where I spent last week. Try to do that with a few hundred printed books!

Is it a perfect solution? No, nothing is ever perfect. But it certainly is much better than having boxes of printed books gathering dust in “my summer home” more than 1,000 miles away!

For details, read my earlier article, Scan and Digitize Your Books for $1 Each, at https://blog.eogn.com/2018/06/21/scan-and-digitize-your-books-for-1-each/.

10 Comments

Thank you for recommending 1Dollar Scan.I used them to do my books and they did a great job. My hard copy genealogy bookshelf now contains more current books that I still use often. Readers just need to understand that they don’t get the hard copy back, as it is cut apart to put through the scanner. Don’t send off any sentimental or valuable books!

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Dick,
Do you know of anyone that digitize old microfiche or film?

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And here I thought you were a “super” person who did everything – reassuring to know you are human too! All good information in this article and thanks for that as always.
I don’t have enough books to worry about – leave that to the family to sort out when i’m gone. Meanwhile I’ve sent a number of books with good “anytime” advice off to the local Genealogical Society so they are possibly getting used there.

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If you need a big cutter, try your local print/copy center as they may have one. Be careful what you cut as it may special.

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At the 1916 conference at Roots Tech there was a restoration copy service that was located in the middle of conference hall. They had a lg photo of Bobby Kennedy and many more examples to show their restorations. I was impressed and wanted to use them. They copied 8mm and super8mm for $10.00 a reel (any size). I couldn’t find the card or the name of the company when I returned home. (Lots of genealogy and papers came home with me, and it was simply lost). Please if anyone know the name of that company please send it to me. I would be so happy. They did not put you information on line like many do.
Please help me find that company. Great article–thanks for the update.

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Our genealogy society recently purchased a $20,000 book scanner for our state archives. You can lay the book flat and copy the pages from the camera above. No damage to book. Once you get the computer set up, it’s just a matter of clicking and turning the page. I think many libraries have a book scanner, though some may be smaller than the large one we purchased. We use it to scan large manuscripts, newspapers, and manuscripts.

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This year I purchased a small, thin, recently published 108-page genealogy-related book. The book was printed in annoying small print – Times New Roman 9 pt. bold. Office Depot/Office Max cut the binding off for $.75. I ran the pages through my sheet-fed scanner and saved the book in PDF format. Even so, the print is not crisp when enlarged. It must have been produced on a typewriter rather than with a word processor.

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Dick, I would hope that as an alternative to throwing away copies of books that someone else has digitized, that you would find someplace to donate them.

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Rather than scanning the book, I make photo copies of the few pages I need and then donate the book to my nearest genealogy library. If I need to look at it again, I go there. Minimal costs and save me lots of time.

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