Do you have a previously published book that you wish you could re-release, but you do not have a current version of the manuscript? No problem, just get it scanned, right? You’ve seen those ads that promise to scan your book, and even create an ebook and PDF while they’re at it. It sounds really great, but Pedernales has worked with many authors to get their books scanned and there are pitfalls you should be aware of.

First, it does not have to be too expensive, so don’t overpay for the service. A 300 page book should cost you somewhere around $25-40 just for the scan. For this you should get a formatted text file and a PDF. That is, of course, for an unproofed scan. And there is the rub. To get a useful scan of your book, it has to be proofed before you can use it, and that is a manual, painstaking chore.  The reason a book has to be proofed is that although the scan might be pretty good, the errors need to be eliminated.  And there ARE going to be scan errors. If you are willing to clean them up yourself, then paying a modest fee for just the scanning makes sense. If you want perfection (it ain’t gonna happen) or at least the best quality, pay extra for the proofing, which will cost a minimum of a dollar a page. So, a 300 page book should come in at about $300. Reasonable enough, right? If you want your original book that you sent in for scanning returned to you, you can choose “non-destructive” scanning which costs a bit more. The PDF is useful because it is a good way to see what the scanned text SHOULD look like if you sent your one and only copy of the book to the scanning company. The formatted text file is a file that contains the scanned text and includes italicized, bolded, and otherwise formatted text.

Second, don’t buy any of the addons, like ebook versions such as epub or mobi. Why? Because the scanning process is imperfect. The text files are going to have scan errors, and every one of those errors is going to show up in your ebook, which renders it useless.

Once your book is scanned, the text file has to be carefully proofed to eliminate scan errors. Just pretend someone has typed your manuscript. No matter how good the typist is, there will be typos. A smudge on the page, a bit of dust on the scanning machine, old or yellowed pages–anything can cause a scanning error. This is because scanners must look at a page of your book as an image, and then interpret the images into actual text. This is called Optical Character Recognition (OCR). It is great, but it is not perfect. Someone has to read the resulting document word by word and correct any scan errors. When Pedernales works with a client to have a book scanned, we receive the completed scan file ourselves and run diagnostics on it, remove obvious scan errors (like paragraphs that start with lower-case text, indicating a false paragraph break), and then proof the scan, paragraph by paragraph, line by line, word by word, and then we send it to our client for the final review and approval.  Once that is all done and a fresh, clean manuscript has been created, THEN a new print book or ebook can be created and republished.

If you have had experience having your book scanned, or have happened upon a great scanning company that produces cleaner scanned files, please do tell us about it and share with our readers. If you have any questions about book scanning, feel free to drop us a line at or call us at 210-246-3373.