High End Book Scanner?

Does anyone here have a book scanner that cradles the books in partially open position that they really like or have used?

Looking for something that can be used by our local historical society to digitize old fragile texts including scrapbooks that are falling apart. We can’t open the books wide enough for a flatbed scanner and need to go to 12 x 17 inches for the larger books. I want it to talk to a Mac as I don’t do Windows. Need 600 dpi scan resolution minimum, prefer 1200. Trying to get a rough order of magnitude for the cost, nothing I find lists prices, always a bad sign.

I don’t personally know of one but you might think about contacting the Library of Congress. The have been digitizing old books (Ben Franklin stuff for example) for years. They might be able to point you to a brand/model.
Good luck.

Have you looked at the Fujitsu Scansnap SV700?
Scans up to A3 paper, $550

IMHO (after scanning over 1000 books) you don’t
need anything higher than 600dpi as it then starts
to pick up more of the “texture” of the material and
not the content.

Perhaps of interest:


Interesting, I feel it’s too much for scanning a single book. But I like the concept and I see it as innovative idea.

600 seems to be the LOC standard with 1200 reserved for illuminated manuscripts. British Library seems to do all 1200 or higher. You can definitely see the texture of the paper/vellum in their scans.

lso looking at the edge scan version sof flatpbeds. take morelabor, flip each page and hold the book, but set on a desktop you can only open the books 90 degrees and get a decent scan. Found a cool one somewhere (can’t rememebr now) and then found it on Amazon


May just get it to try it and see, it’s not like it’s a huge investment…

Problem with the ScanSnap is that you have to be able to put the books fairly flat. Some of these I need to scan won;t do that at all.

Agree on the resolution though, 1200 does show paper texture. Which can be cool and neat but may interfere with the data on the paper.

There’s one in the readers imaging room at the Huntington - I’m sure they could tell you what they use and give an idea of price range.


An alternative could be to put a pro level DSLR on a repro mount. Add some even lighting and take high resolution photographs. For a short term project, you could rent a top of the line camera with a suitable lens.

Thinking this should be easier on the fragile source material.

Yeah but a good one plus lens would be on the order of $6k to buy. ($4k for the camera body and another $2k for a good macro lens) Add a proper copy stand ($1k) lights ($1100) and a book easel ($500) and you’re up to a fairly expensive system.

If the budget can stretch to $10K then some of the other scanner options are more reasonable. But in our case Our small historical society barely brigns in enough $ to keep the lights on.

I’m trying to come up with a budget and then apply for some History Colorado grant money to help purchase the equipment.

Another option is to coordinate with another group I am affiliated with who also needs a books scanner. They are in another state but one thought might be to see if we can help them get it, but have it initially shipped here to do our project then on to them. Still kicking around that idea too.

I was about to suggest the David approach of a bandsaw and an ix500 when I read the question some more. Depending on how many books, future work ect, and the condition of the materials there might be an argument to rather then buy an expensive new scanner just for books, to just pay some teenager some money to scan the book.

On the subject of using a DSLR, you can just rent them for short~ish periods of time, which may be cheaper then a new scanner.

Where can you rent a high end camera? I’m hundreds of miles from the nearest camera store and have never heard of anyone renting that sort of gear anywhere near here.


You can rent pretty much any camera, lens, etc. here.

But I think you’d be way better off using a book scanner than trying to use a makeshift dslr setup.

(apparently discourse doesn’t have the sunglasses emoji…)

Ah that makes sense. I’m in rural western Colorado. no movie or film businesses around here. Lots of professional photographers, but they won’t rent out their equipment and all buy it from elsewhere.

@OogieM There are several different services covering the US market. One of the pioneers are LensRentals.

I am way off their coverage area (USA), but have heard a lot of good things about them from photography podcasts I follow.

Re-opening this thread after watching most of the Paperless Field Guide.

My use case has not changed, lots of old, fragile historical texts and documents that I’d like to scan into searchable PDFs. Most are books that cannot be fully opened. Some are old scrapbooks that are 12 x 17 inches and a lot of the standard 12 x 12 inch scrapbooks.

I tried setting up an old enlarger frame, replacing the enlarger head with a digital camera and see if I could just photograph them but never could get the focus clean enough without immense fiddling for each page. Way too labor intensive and then no OCR or other SW help for the images. I also looked at several other DIY book scanner options.

Looked at various flatbed scanners that scan clear to the edge so books can be scanned when only opened up to 90 degrees. None had good reviews or Mac SW back then. A new check indicates none can handle the large sizes we have to scan.

Reviewed the really high end professional book scanners that can cradle a book in a V holder and use digital cameras to capture the images the OCR SW to create the text but cost is prohibitive, $12-15K and up for ones that meet the size requirements.

So I’m back here to see if anyone has any new info or other suggestions.

Problem is the budget is somewhere around $1500 or so. Might be able to stretch that to $2500 if I get more donations but that’s about the limit.



Does anyone have experience with CZUR book scanners? I heard the software wasn’t great for the Mac


There is another active thread in MPU on this same general topic that you might want to follow if you have not already noticed it. It has CZUR in the title.

I have scanned about 50 books but I always have resorted to tearing off the binding. I have intrigued by but never used the overhead camera systems. The marketing claims are that the software can compensate for the curved valley at the center of the open book but my impression is that that is far from perfect.

The dual camera systems and the V holders seem to be the best systems but they are expensive. People have tried creating their own systems exploiting the general principle. But you have to be a serious hobbiest. You can find instructions on how to build such things on the web

I have been most interested in OCR of plain text. For this I have scanned in B&W at 600 dpi. This is very readable for humans and OCR engines. The files are much smaller because it does not pick up the paper texture etc. The background is just brought in as white. In my experience the OCR is more accurate with this sort of scan because the engine is less distracted by paper texture ‘info’.