I wanted to digitize my college texts, since at this point they’re more valuable to me in digital (by a long shot, particularly since I’m moving to another continent, so neither moving nor storage seem cost-effective). Several years of my young income went into college, so all this knowledge must be worth something, and it must even be worth remembering.

Here’s the approach I settled on (see appendix for more details):

  1. Office Depot (or any other print/scan facility) will slice off the binding for $0.75 each or so.
  2. Next time, I need to inspect the severed bindings on site to make sure it was the right sized cut - if the cut is too small, leftover glue on the pages will bind up the scanner, and it adds a significant amount of extra time to flip through by hand to make sure each page is free and clear before scanning. (Obviously, if the cut is too large, then text is lost and there’s no going back.)
  3. Next, I have access to a nice sheetfed scanner at work. It outputs PDFs, athough only 200 pages at once.
  4. Next, OCR, the books are searchable.
  5. Last, merge the PDF files into one.
  6. I recycled the severed physical books. It seems like a shame, but for me, they serve no purpose after they’re digitized. However, I believe it’s possible to have the books glued back together. Note that the sheetfed scanner makes a mess out of the stacks of pages, so manually stacking them, to get ready for regluing, is at least as big of a task as digitizing.

Why not buy ebooks? For the number of texts I have, that would cost as much as my car in total. (Don’t be too impressed. I’m referring to my 1989 Corolla.) Anyways, most of my books aren’t available. (Does that just make me an old guy?) (Note that for novels, the reverse is usually true; the most cost-effective thing to do it just buy the ebook. Now you’ve paid for it twice, but it’s generally <$10 each. Your time is worth more.)

Some alternatives:

  1. Manually scan or photograph only the front cover and Table of Contents of each book. For a college text, that’s the most valuable part. Most of the time all I’m going to do with my books is lookup the ToC and cross-reference Wikipedia on a given subject anyways. But of course, since I’m moving away, there’s a risk of needing the book’s depth later. But if your books are staying put in the garage, start with the ToC. This is triply true if you subject matter is covered on Khan Academy. A note: lower levels on Khan, especially math, have great testing and prerequisite mapping. All I see for higher level subjects such as Differential Equations’s right now is video lectures, which is only a smal step up from Wikipedia anyways. I still don’t see anything on Khan corresponding to Solid State Physics, Numerical Methods, or Quantum Mechanics, so at the time of this writing Khan isn’t offering a full Bachelor’s in Physics, so (at least if you’re in my boat), don’t expect Khan to overlap a full technical degree. (In fact, I’d venture less than 50% of my degrees are on Khan.)
  2. Instead of having a professional clean cut, you can use a circular saw to remove the binding. It seems like a waste of time compared to the industrial cut, and I believe the pages tend to stick together because the cut is a bit frayed. But the attraction is having control over the location of the cut. (If you want something done right, do it yourself.) Print/scan facilities are not going to let you use the industrial slicer yourself. Well, actually I didn’t ask. Let me know if you’re able to get permission to do this.
  3. You can build a DIY non-destructive book scanner, or buy a kit. www.diybookscanner.org I tried making a book scanner myself a few years ago, just because I wanted to digitize. Although I successfully scanned one book, the result is that I don’t consider this the most effective use of time. I would probably try the kit if I did it again, but still, for a dozen text books, it’s not optimal. And for my purpose, destructive scanning is just fine.
  4. You can mail your books off to an online service, either destructive or non-destructive. I’ve found most of the destructive services available cost more than an ebook (~$100 for a 600-800 page text book), not including shipping, so I don’t rate this well. But at least there’s no unavailability issue, and it doesn’t take a bunch of your time. Also note these services generally include OCR, so there’s no post-processing for you.

Appendix

spineless book

OCR for Linux: gscan2pdf. I found that the OCR process wouldn’t work after merging PDFs. I had to do OCR on the originals.

OCR makes the PDF searchable (but not reliably). The PDF is still basically a picture of each page of the original book.

searchable PDF

Creating a table-of-contents for Linux: pdfmarks processed by gs (ghostscript). This is a really tedious manual chore. Though a table-of-contents is one of the most useful features of a digital textbook.

command line:

gs -q -dBATCH -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOutputFile=withmarks.pdf ComplexVariablesAndApplicationsOCR.pdf pdfmarks

pdfmarks:

[ /Title (Complex Variables and Applications)
  /Author (James Ward Brown, Ruel V Churchill)
  /Subject (Math: Complex Variables)
  /Keywords (complex, variables, math)
  /ModDate (D:20140608092842)
  /CreationDate (D:20140608092842)
  /Creator (gscan2pdf, ghostscript)
  /DOCINFO pdfmark

[ /Page 1 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Cover) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 12 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (About the Authors) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 16 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Table of Contents) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 20 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Preface) /OUT pdfmark
[/Count -8 /Page 22 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Chapter 1 Complex Numbers) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 22 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (1.1 Sums and Products) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 23 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (1.2 Algebraic Properties) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 27 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (1.3 Moduli and Conjugates) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 30 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (1.4 Triangle Inequality) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 33 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (1.5 Polar Coordinates and Euler's Formula) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 35 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (1.6 Products and Quotients in Exponential Form) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 40 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (1.7 Roots of Complex Numbers) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 44 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (1.8 Regions in the Complex Plane) /OUT pdfmark
[ /PageMode /UseOutlines /DOCVIEW pdfmark
[/Count -14 /Page 47 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Chapter 2 Analytic Functions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 47 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.9 Functions of a Complex Variable) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 49 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.10 Mappings) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 54 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.11 Limits) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 56 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.12 Theorems on Limits) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 59 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.13 Limits Involving the Point at Infinity) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 61 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.14 Continuity) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 64 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.15 Derivatives) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 66 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.16 Differentiation Formulas) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 69 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.17 Cauchy-Riemann Equations) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 71 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.18 Sufficient Conditions for Differentiability) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 73 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.19 Polar Coordinates) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 76 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.20 Analytic Functions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 78 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.21 Reflection Principle) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 80 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (2.22 Harmonic Functions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /PageMode /UseOutlines /DOCVIEW pdfmark
[/Count -7 /Page 86 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Chapter 3 Elementary Functions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 86 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (3.23 The Exponential Function) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 90 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (3.24 Trigonometric Functions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 93 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (3.25 Hyperbolic Functions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 96 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (3.26 The Logarithmic Function and its Branches) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 99 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (3.27 Some Identities Involving Logarithms) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 102 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (3.28 Complex Exponents) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 104 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (3.29 Inverse Trigonometric and Hyperbolic Functions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /PageMode /UseOutlines /DOCVIEW pdfmark
[/Count -13 /Page 107 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Chapter 4 Integrals) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 107 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (4.30 Complex-Valued Functions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 110 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (4.31 Contours) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 116 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (4.32 Contour Integrals) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 118 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (4.33 Examples) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 125 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (4.34 Antiderivatives) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 128 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (4.35 Examples) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 131 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (4.36 Cauchy-Goursat Theorem) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 133 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (4.37 Proof of the Theorem) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 137 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (4.38 Simply and Multiply Connected Domains) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 144 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (4.39 Cauchy Integral Formulas) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 146 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (4.40 Derivatives of Analytic Functions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 151 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (4.41 Liouvilles Theorem and the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 153 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (4.42  Maximum Moduli of Functions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /PageMode /UseOutlines /DOCVIEW pdfmark
[/Count -10 /Page 159 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Chapter 5 Series) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 159 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (5.43 Convergence of Sequences and Series) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 164 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (5.44 Taylor Series) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 167 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (5.45 Examples) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 171 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (5.46 Laurent Series) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 175 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (5.47 Examples) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 180 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (5.48 Absolute and Uniform Convergence of Power Series) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 185 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (5.49 Integration and Differentiation of Power Series) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 188 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (5.50 Uniqueness of Series Representations) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 190 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (5.51 Multiplication and Division of Power Series) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 197 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (5.52 Analytic Continuation) /OUT pdfmark
[ /PageMode /UseOutlines /DOCVIEW pdfmark
[/Count -7 /Page 201 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Chapter 6 Residues and Poles) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 201 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (6.53 Residues) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 204 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (6.54 Residue Theorems) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 207 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (6.55 The Three Types of Isolated Singular Points) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 211 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (6.56 Residues at Poles) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 214 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (6.57 Zeros and Poles of Order m) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 220 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (6.58 Conditions Under Which f_z=0) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 222 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (6.59 Behavior of f Near Removable and Essential Singular Points) /OUT pdfmark
[ /PageMode /UseOutlines /DOCVIEW pdfmark
[/Count -8 /Page 225 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Chapter 7 Applications of Residues) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 225 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (7.60 Evaluation of Improper Integrals) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 231 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (7.61 Improper Integrals Involving Sines and Cosines) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 238 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (7.62 Definite Integrals Involving Sines and Cosines) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 240 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (7.63 Indented Paths) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 245 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (7.64 Integration along a Branch Cut) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 249 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (7.65 Argument Principle and Rouches Theorem) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 256 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (7.66 Inverse Laplace Transform) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 259 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (7.67 Examples) /OUT pdfmark
[ /PageMode /UseOutlines /DOCVIEW pdfmark
[/Count -11 /Page 266 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Chapter 8 Mapping by Elementary Functions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 266 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (8.68 Linear Transforms) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 268 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (8.69 The Trasnformation w=1/z) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 272 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (8.70 Linear Fractional Transformations) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 275 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (8.71 An Amplicit Form) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 277 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (8.72 Mappings of the Upper Half Plane) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 281 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (8.73 Exponential and Logorithmic Transformations) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 284 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (8.74 The Transformation w=sinz) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 289 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (8.75 Mappings by Branches of z^1/2) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 292 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (8.76 Square Roots of Polynomials) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 297 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (8.77 Riemann Surfaces) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 300 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (8.78 Surfaces for Related Functions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /PageMode /UseOutlines /DOCVIEW pdfmark
[/Count -5 /Page 304 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Chapter 9 Conformal Mapping) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 304 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (9.79 Preservation of Angles) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 306 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (9.80 Further Properties) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 311 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (9.81 Harmonic Conjugates) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 313 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (9.82 Transformations of Harmonic Functions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 315 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (9.83 Transformations of Boundary Conditions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /PageMode /UseOutlines /DOCVIEW pdfmark
[/Count -9 /Page 320 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Chapter 10 Applications of Conformal Mapping) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 320 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (10.84 Steady Temperatures) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 322 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (10.85 Steady Temperatures in a Half Plane) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 324 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (10.86 A Related Problem) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 326 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (10.87 Temperatures in a Quadrant) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 331 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (10.88 Electrostatic Potential) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 332 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (10.89 Potential in a Cylindrical Space) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 336 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (10.90 Two-Dimensional Fluid Flow) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 338 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (10.91 The Stream Function) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 340 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (10.92 Flows Around a Corner and around a Cylinder) /OUT pdfmark
[ /PageMode /UseOutlines /DOCVIEW pdfmark
[/Count -7 /Page 347 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Chapter 11 The Schwarz-Christoffel Transformation) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 347 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (11.93 Mapping the Real Axis onto a Polygon) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 349 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (11.94 Schwarz-Christoffel Transformation) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 351 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (11.95 Triangles and Rectangles) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 355 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (11.96 Degenerate Polygons) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 360 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (11.97 Fluid Flow in a Channel through a Slit) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 362 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (11.98 Flow in a Channel with an Offset) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 365 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (11.99 Electrostatic Potential about an Edge of a Conducting Plate) /OUT pdfmark
[ /PageMode /UseOutlines /DOCVIEW pdfmark
[/Count -7 /Page 370 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Chapter 12 Integral Formulas of the Poisson Type) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 370 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (12.100 Poisson Integral Formula) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 372 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (12.101 Dirichlet Problem for a Disk) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 375 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (12.102 Related Boundary Value Problems) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 379 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (12.103 Schwarz Integral Formula) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 381 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (12.104 Dirichlet Problem for a Half Plane) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 383 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (12.105 Neumann Problem for a Disk) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 384 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (12.106 Neumann Problem for a Half Plane) /OUT pdfmark
[ /PageMode /UseOutlines /DOCVIEW pdfmark
[/Count -2 /Page 388 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Appendixes) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 388 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (A 1 Bibliography) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 391 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (A 2 Table of Transformations of Regions) /OUT pdfmark
[ /Page 400 /View [/XYZ 0 0 1.0] /Title (Index) /OUT pdfmark
[ /PageMode /UseOutlines /DOCVIEW pdfmark