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best book scanners

The Best Book Scanners in 2021

Author: Robert Wilson

Electronics & Peripherals Expert

A test of the book scanners is to show how useful the book scanners are for students and frequent readers. At first, the special scanners for books were mainly used in scientific institutes and libraries, but today there are also book scanners for private use. With our purchase advice we would like to present the readers with a tool that should help with the selection.


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Frequently Asked Questions: Book Scanner

How does a book scanner work?

The scanning by the book scanner in all tests takes place by touching individual lines and pages or by area sensors. The optical data is converted within a fraction of a second. Basically, the book scanners that work with area sensors are considered to be the more durable variant. However, it should always be noted that not all books and documents are suitable for every type of book scanner. Especially with older books, you should therefore ensure that the templates are not exposed to excessive stress.

Books are a particular challenge for scanners because they cannot simply be laid flat on a sheet of glass. However, if they are not fully opened, there will be distortion in the central area or near the fold. Manual scanning or digitizing of books takes a long time due to the constant turning of the pages. In addition, the repeated pressing puts a certain strain on the book and the binding. So the template suffers and the result is not particularly high quality. This makes the scanned texts partially illegible for the following text programs. This form of scanning is therefore unsuitable for further processing.

Another problem is the format of the books, which are not based on the classic A4 or A3 sizes. That is why the book scanners were tailored to the specific requirements in this area. In the meantime, with the help of the book scanners, it is possible to digitize entire libraries within a relatively short time. This is not only of great importance in a professional environment. More and more private individuals are also benefiting from the book scanners, which are easy on the books and still work quickly. Depending on the sensitivity of the original, a flatbed scanner or an overhead scanner is the better choice.

If large stocks are to be processed in libraries and administrations, correspondingly large devices are used. These consist of two combined scanners that are offset from one another. When scanning, the book does not have to be opened wide. It is often held by a book cradle while the scanner itself photographs the pages and turns the pages using a suction function.

The book scanners are typically operated in combination with office workstations. For the user, this means that they can then edit the scan files with Office programs such as Word, PowerPoint or Excel.

It is also possible to create and edit PDF files. As a result, graphics and charts can sometimes even be edited. Saving, printing and burning CDs, all of these tasks can be combined with scanning.

What are the advantages & use cases of book scanners?

The practical book scanners from a test are an efficient solution for a quick digitization of the existing book inventory. This is useful for home use, for example if you want to turn the old inventory on the bookshelf into handy eBooks, as well as for students and scientists who want to have all important publications at hand as files. The flatbed and overhead scanners that were tested work far faster than copiers or multifunction devices. In addition, the books are not so stressed due to the special design of the book scanner.

This is an important advantage for bookbinding, which can lose its adhesion if too much pressure is applied. In addition to the actual scanning of the books, our comparison winners and all test winners book scanners often have other functions. So it is possible to edit the scanned data afterwards or to initialize an automatic correction. Among other things, it is about powerful text recognition programs so that the scan files can be searched or edited for certain terms, for example.

The innovative technology of the book scanner is the basis for an immediate data acquisition via optical signals. With the photoelectric processes, the books can be processed into files with the help of the image recording devices, which are then available on the PC or another terminal device. The proven light sensor technology has been used in print shops for several decades and is therefore also suitable for commercially and privately used book scanners. The ability to scan and save complete books extends the areas of application in the university, at work and at home.

An unmistakable advantage of the book scanners from various tests is the combination of many pages in a single file. Another scanner would save each page individually and mark it with consecutive numbers.

This requires post processing to join multiple pages together. The book scanner saves users this step.

What are the different types of book scanners?

Large book scanners have been found in university and academic libraries for a long time. Fully automatic systems are often used here to support staff with digitization. Our comparison of the book scanners refers to the smaller devices that were developed for private users. These also prove to be effective tools for scanning and saving your own library.

If you want to scan books, you usually opt for an adapted flatbed scanner or an overhead scanner. Both variants are specially tailored to the way books are bound. This means that the book binding is spared during scanning and that distortions are also eliminated. This reduces the effort for the user. Also important is the software that eliminates any errors that may be present during post-processing. In some cases, the multi-function scanners can also convince with their capabilities, as they can digitize slides in addition to books or have an extra compartment for the automatic insertion of paper. In the following we would like to describe the most important categories of book scanners in more detail.

The flatbed scanner is a device with a glass plate that is sized to fit the paper format. Here the book or documents are placed flat on the support surface, where they are read by the light sensors on the mechanical unit. Such a flatbed scanner is particularly useful for individual scans, while turning the pages of books is relatively time-consuming. The special book scanners with flatbed systems therefore often work with an additional function and are structured differently. They are, so to speak, a modified form of this adapted flatbed scanner.

The advantages of the flatbed scanner:

  • The support surface goes almost to the outer edge of the device,
  • formats up to A3 are also possible with many standard devices,
  • distortion-free digitization,
  • by placing the book on top, a flat surface is created.


  • Light fades up,
  • regular maintenance required.

As the name suggests, the overhead scanner works with the overhead scanner. There are models with a line sensor and devices that work similarly to a camera. These overhead scanners are also available in a design specially developed for books. The overhead scanners with book cradles are particularly interesting. Here the book is not opened on a flat surface, but at a slightly smaller angle. In addition, the rocker compensates for the height differences between the two pages of the book. This makes these overhead scanners with book cradles particularly suitable for bound works. In the comparison winners of these book scanners, a glass plate with integrated pressure regulation ensures targeted protection of the objects. If the pressure becomes too high, it will automatically open so that the original is not damaged.

The advantages of the overhead scanner:

  • convenient and quick scanning,
  • Scanning from two pages at the same time,
  • Formats up to A3 possible,
  • no maintenance required.


  • Often problems with processing by software,
  • Susceptibility to stray light (quality deteriorates).

With a transmitted light scanner, the light is not directed onto an opaque material, but onto semi-transparent slides.

The feeder scanners are only suitable for loose paper, for example for receipts and individual documents. The typical format here is DIN A4, but smaller and larger scans are also possible with many devices. The papers to be scanned are only placed in the input tray provided for this purpose. After activating the scan function, the device pulls in the original and does the scanning automatically. These document or feeder scanners scored highly in various tests, especially when it came to batch processing.

A handheld scanner with a rechargeable battery can also be operated independently of a computer or an electrical outlet. With this ability, he is particularly mobile.

The scanned or recorded scan documents remain cached on the integrated memory card until they are later loaded onto the PC. You need a certain amount of practice to use the manual scanner, because the device must be moved as evenly as possible, without wobbling and in a straight line over the document. So that the result is easy to read, the surface should also be level. Some hand-held scanners have rollers on the bottom of the housing. These make it easier to keep the same distance to the original. This contact must not be lost during the movement. The hand-held scanners are particularly suitable for small documents such as business cards and photographs.

Some hand-held scanners are available in pen form. Here, too, the scanned text is first saved and is available for later applications, for example as a text file or as a JPG.

How are book scanners tested?

All book scanner tests from deal with the advantages and possible uses of these modern devices. We have collected many details from the tests for potential buyers, which together form a kind of guide. We are not only concerned with the winners of the book scanners, but also with the practical use of the devices and the digitization itself. When looking for a suitable book scanner for your own needs, there are many extras to consider so that the selected device actually has all the necessary items Brings features and does not damage the books. In the following we therefore show what is particularly important when looking for a book scanner. Basically, we are concerned with stationary scanners. These are usually always connected to a desktop computer or other device. If no other settings are made on the scanner, the output takes place directly on the PC concerned via a corresponding interface.

Paper size

Unlike the usual A4 documents, books have very different dimensions that do not adhere to any standard. Some of the books are much smaller, while others have a format that is well above the classic document dimensions. Therefore you should definitely check whether the flatbed or overhead scanner is big enough.

With flatbed scanners, the contact area is often limited and only slightly larger than DIN A4. If you mainly want to scan large books, you therefore need a scanner with an A3 area. However, these larger book scanners often cost significantly more than the classic A4 scanners.

In general, the overhead scanners offer more options for capturing the pages. In principle, the scan units in such an overhead device are designed from the outset for a document size of A3. This is why the overhead scanners are also suitable for scanning images.


The book scanners from a  review are available with different resolution rates. The resolution of the multifunction scanners can often be adjusted. Here, the scanning of books is often an additional function, for example 300 dpi is set. This standard resolution is usually sufficient for books. However, when scanning book pages with illustrations, you should use a higher resolution.

Some scanners offer a resolution of up to 1,200 dpi. This high number of pixels provides significantly more precision.


With the image sensors in book scanners, the question usually arises as to whether CCD or CMOS is used. But first we would like to explain some details about the sensors themselves. The sensor chips convert the light that they detect into energy. With the help of targeted light filtering, they can produce the colors. For this purpose, two different types of chips are used, which have certain differences in the way the pixels are recognized. The CCD (Charge Coupled Device) gradually read the voltage values ​​from the pixels, which is also known as the bucket chain principle. With the active pixel sensor, which works with CMOS technology, the pixels are addressed individually.

A difference in quality between these two technologies can no longer be seen even on closer inspection. CMOS technology used to have a weaker light output, but is now just as precise as CCD. For the users of book scanners, however, the predominant area of ​​application is of interest. The surface sensors of the document and book scanners are mostly equipped with CMOS technology.


In general, the modern book scanners comparison winners work with LEDs when the book pages are illuminated. The LEDs convince with their brightness, their energy-saving operation and good durability, even with frequent use. Fluorescent tubes can only be found in older scanners. They provide a bright light but are not as energy efficient as the LEDs. In addition, there may be a sluggish reaction, especially immediately after switching on the scanner.

Not only the book scanner comparison winners should illuminate the templates evenly. Even the cheaper devices only deliver a satisfactory result if the light is optimally aligned and does not become weaker at the edge. In this context, it is interesting to take a look at the inner workings of the sensors. The book pages reflect the light, then the light is bundled in the converging lens and processed by the image sensor. If the areas of the image are not evenly illuminated, spots will appear. This is also visible when looking at the scanned documents. The error rate increases and the revision or correction is more difficult than necessary. With overhead scanners it is also important to ensure that no stray light interferes with the scanning process. That would also have a negative effect on the image quality.

Output File Format

Most book scanners have several options for the storage format. The corresponding software of the scanner allows an individual adaptation. You can decide yourself whether the scanned document should be saved as an editable DOC or PDF file or whether an image format such as TIF, BMP or JPG is the better option. In the case of tables or presentations, file formats such as XLS or PPT are also available for selection.

What do I have to look out for when buying a book scanner?

When looking for a suitable book scanner, our product comparison is a helpful tool. We want to provide buyers with all the important information and in this way show them which scanners are available and what they are particularly suitable for.

Among other things, it concerns the scanner software, which often works with text recognition. So you have all the tools at hand to not only read the documents and display them on a screen, but also to edit them. A CD with driver and instructions are typically included. This documentation also helps with the right approach for the intuitively operated scanners. Some of the book scanners are also suitable for other programs. However, if you already have scanner software, you should ensure that the device is compatible with the software. For example, TWAIN software is a standard that simplifies the transfer between hardware and software. When it comes to a book scanner without this TWAIN interface, you are solely dependent on the manufacturer’s control programs.

The size of the book scanner also plays a role that cannot be neglected. Depending on the main use, a small scanner can be sufficient to scan books up to DIN A4, or it has to be a larger model. The question of which technology is better – flatbed or supervision – also needs to be clarified. This concerns on the one hand the nature and sensitivity of the books and on the other hand the environmental conditions.

Book Scanner Accessories

Some accessories are required for the efficient and individual use of the book scanners from a test. Among other things, these are the cleaning utensils that ensure that the shelf and the lighting elements remain clean. The manufacturers also offer original repair parts in case individual elements have to be replaced. Those who are less familiar with the technology should commission an electrical service to repair or install the spare parts. Small jobs can, however, also be carried out by inexperienced but skilled users.

The modular structure of many book scanners ensures a certain flexibility. There are often special attachments that enable an even more efficient scanning process. In addition to the hardware, the software can also play an important role in coordinating the book scanner with the work to be done. With the appropriate components and the appropriate connections, the device can be upgraded at a later date. If requirements or special wishes change, the cables for the respective interfaces are also used and make it easier to save or forward the digital copies.

The important accessories for the book scanners from the test include the book cradles and book holders. These are designed in such a way that they hold the book open without stressing the spine. A sheet holder ensures that the pages don’t accidentally flip over. Nevertheless, no additional pressure is built up that would strain the binding.

Some of these blade holders are plastic fingers. These are transparent and built in such a way that they lay curved paper flat, but leave no traces. With this support, the scan result is perfect.

A barcode recognition can partly be integrated. This helps to identify the documents to be scanned, which can be important with a certain filing structure. In addition, these recognition systems help with the further processing that takes place in the subsequent PC systems.

In order to keep their hands free, some users choose to add a foot switch to the scanner. This makes the processes very convenient and reduces the number of steps. Such a foot switch is particularly useful for very thick works that are to be scanned.

The operating software should not be missing from the accessories. It is an essential basis for multifunctionality in the workplace or in the home office. The work processes can be accelerated with the appropriate programs, and optimal adaptation to the integrated processes is always guaranteed. With precise instructions, no questions arise during operation or they can be answered quickly if necessary.

A TFT monitor can also be connected to the book scanner for control purposes. This means that users have the option of a live preview at any time. The scan results can be easily monitored and an immediate reaction is possible in the event of errors. On this basis, the visual inspection is a great advantage, especially for reports with many pages and for other important documents.

Book Scanner Alternatives

The book scanner can be replaced by a simple scanner depending on the volume that has to be scanned. However, the scanning process takes much longer here. From a certain number of pages, the individual processing is therefore ineffective. It is faster, for example, with a scan service that can often be found in libraries and universities. This service is partly free of charge for students.

Copy shops now also often work with scanners, so that the copied pages are not carried home in a pile of paper, but on a USB stick.

If you want external document archiving, you don’t necessarily have to worry about scanning it yourself. There are also special scan services that do this work for you. The relevant files can then be stored collectively or handed over to a notary, depending on which documents are involved. If you hire an external company to do the scanning, the files must be transported securely in this context. Depending on how much material is to be scanned, it may be cheaper to do the scanning yourself or to digitize the documents on site or within the company.

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Last product update on 2022-06-28 | Source: Amazon Affiliate