How can I convert a book into a searchable PDF?

There are many reasons to convert a book to a digital format, such as PDF, Word, or ePub. A physical book is not friendly for searching text, and it can be inconvenient to carry a book around. A digitalized book can easily address these issues. Also, it works better for making a copy or transferring over the internet.

This article will introduce how to scan a book to a searchable format.

1. Digitalize the book

For the transition from paper to digital, you can use the camera on your phone or tablet, a document scanner with an auto feeder, or a book scanner. There are several things to consider on choosing the device.

  Camera on a phone or tablet Document scanner with auto feeder Book scanner
Image resolution High (1)
300 dpi or up is recommended (2)
Less superior than a phone camera
Speed and convenience One page at one time
Fast with batch scanning
One page at one time
Cost-effectiveness High
Depending on whether you can access one
You probably need to buy one. (3)
Image distortion Distortion, skew
Best quality
The text near the binding could be distorted.
Damage to the book N/A
You need to remove the binding from the book.
N/A

Notes:

  1. Almost every phone manufactured in the recent years is equipped with an 8-megapixel camera or even higher. Take iPhone SE for example, it comes with a 12-megapixel camera。
  2. If the font size is large, i.e., 10 points or up, then 300 dpi is the optimal recognition resolution. If the font size is 9 points or smaller, 400 dpi or even 600 dpi is recommended.
  3. Check pricing on Amazon

2. Image pre-processing, and OCR to convert image to text

To convert scanned documents or images from cameras to searchable text, you need the OCR technology. Here is an OCR-as-a-service website. It is based on Nuance’s OmniPage SDK and provides accurate and fast text recognition.

Dynamsoft Document Capture OCR-as-a-service: Sign up now >

Camera input

Dynamsoft Document Capture offers pre-recognition functions to apply image pre-processing procedures to images. These will enhance their quality, and yield more accurate recognition. These are especially useful for images that were captured by digital cameras.

  • Resolution enhancement: This is applied if required, interpolating to yield a pixel density 1.5 or 2 times the original.
  • Text line straightening: This removes distortion when capturing book pages that cannot be completely flat.
  • Removing parallax distortion: This results if the camera is not perpendicular to the page. For best results, the image should contain at least six lines of text, preferably justified.

3. Save as searchable PDF, ePub or Word document

On step 2 of this web page, you can choose to save the recognition result as PDF files, Word documents or ePub format.

4. Export to cloud for indexing and full-text search

After the successful text recognition, files can be exported to cloud storage services for archive, indexing, and search.

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