1DollarScan: digitize your paperbooks for $1?
I’ve been saying for some time that I’d love to have a machine where I could stick a paperbook into it and get an e-book out of it.
I have digitized a couple of books in my work with a non-profit…it’s a time-consuming, challenging task.
I have only done it with public domain books (ones not under copyright protection).
In the case of the non-profit, they wanted to distribute the books, so of course, public domain was going to make sense.
It has been unclear to me and it is still unclear to me whether it would be legal to scan a paperbook copy you own to do your own format shifting and change it into an e-book, if it is under copyright protection.
It might seem obvious that it would be. I won’t go through all the legal stuff in this one (and I’m not a lawyer anyway), but the Supreme Court found it was okay to “time shift” TV programs by recording them, and it’s legal (as I understand it) to “format shift” CDs to digital files for your own use.
However, different media do have different rules, and I haven’t seen case law that specifically says it is okay to format shift your copies of paperbooks. In fact, the whole complicated Google scanning settlement has to do in part, with scanning copyrighted materials. Since its being settled, though, I don’t think case law is established…a lawyer could answer that better than I could.
I bring that up, because
says that what they do is legal under Fair Use…I’m not convinced, but I don’t know. I never quite knew how Fair Use allowed format shifting or time shifting, but let’s presume that what 1DollarScan does is legal*.
What do they do?
You send them a paperbook. For $1 per each one hundred pages, they will turn it into a pdf and send it back to you.
That’s super cheap, even though you do pay for the shipping there.
I have lots of paperbooks I’d rather have as e-books…but at this point, I’m not going to use this service.
It is a purely emotional reason, if we assume that it’s legal.
It has to do with the paperbooks.
They destroy them (in fact, they recycle them).
They tear them into pieces to scan them.
No question, that’s an efficient way to do it.
I didn’t damage the books I scanned. It’s much more awkward to scan a book and treat it gently.
I might have thought I’d gotten a bit past honoring the paper and ink, as opposed to the words.
This tells me that I haven’t.
I just can’t get past the idea of the books being destroyed.
Honestly, it would probably be better if I could. Paperbooks are likely to eventually be lost (damage from insects, fire, water, and general decay). PDFs and other digital files are more likely, to me, to make the book widely available when it goes into the public domain. Once that happens, I do think digital files have a much better chance of being available for future generations.
I won’t hold it against you if you use 1DollarScan.
If you do, there are more options. For another dollar per 100 pages, they’ll use OCR (Optical Character Recognition), making the books searchable. That’s not a perfect process, but it can be pretty good.
It sounds to me like they are doing a lot of things correctly, even though the website is arguably a bit unpolished. They’ll “fine tune” the PDF for different EBRs (E-Book Readers), for example, giving you a better output for a NOOK or a Kindle.
They do an “Amazon Direct” option. You buy the book at Amazon and have it shipped straight to them. So, you find a book not in e-book format for a penny (plus $3.99 shipping & handling, usually) and have it sent to 1DollarScan…and they convert it.
It’s a company that’s been successful in Japan, by the way. it’s been covered in the mainstream media.
At this point, they only take payment via PayPal…they say they are exploring other options, but that does keep the cost down.
They also do other things besides books…they’ll scan your old diaries or work documents. You could take that typed manuscript and have them convert it.
So, as I say, I’m not going to use it right now…but I thought some of you might want to know about it.
Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think about it…
* In terms of the legality, one interesting spin to me is that they let authors/publishers tell them not to scan the books. Why do that, if there is no question of the legality?
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.