How to Scan a Book to PDF for Free (In Easy Steps)

November 15, 2023 397 views

Books are a person's best friends; they nurture our growth and offer companionship through various narratives. However, carrying physical books everywhere can be quite inconvenient.  This has led to a growing interest in the art of scanning books to PDF. Scanning a book requires OCR software, which not only scans your books but also allows you to store them on your mobile device. This enables you to have your digital library at your fingertips wherever you go. In this article, our primary focus will be on learning how to scan a book to PDF. Additionally, we will introduce an OCR software with advanced AI capabilities to enhance the OCR experience for users.

How to Scan a Book to PDF for Free

How to scan books to PDF easily

We will explore two traditional methods of book scanning, allowing us to scan books, organize the scanned images, and convert them into PDF format to create digital copies of our books.

  1. Non-destructive book scanning

Non-destructive scanning is a method used to make digital copies of physical items, such as books, papers, or photos, without causing any damage to the originals. Think of it as taking a photograph with a scanner instead of a camera. The scanner captures the item's content and creates a digital version that can be saved on a computer. This process is non-destructive because it doesn't tear pages, leave marks, or change the original item in any way. It's a safe and gentle way to preserve important things while making them accessible in the digital world.

Here’s how you can carry out Non-Destructive book scanning on your own:

Step 1: Begin by selecting the books or documents you intend to scan, making sure they are kept in their pristine, original condition.

Stack of books

Step 2: Organize your materials in the sequence you prefer for the scanning process.

Step 3: Fine-tune your scanner settings, including resolution (measured in DPI), color mode, and file format (typically PDF).

Step 4: Gently position the first book or page face down on the scanner bed, taking utmost care to preserve the original without any harm.

Book scanner

Step 5: After completing the scanning, meticulously assess the digital copies for quality and accuracy.

Step 6: Store the scanned documents on your computer or an external storage device, and categorize them for effortless retrieval.

Step 7: With your digital copies securely archived, you can confidently safeguard the original documents without any risk of harm.

Non-destructive scanning is the preferred method for preserving precious or irreplaceable items such as ancient books or cherished collections since it ensures the originals remain intact.

Why Non-Destructive Scanning?

Preservation: The primary advantage is the preservation of the original materials, making it the preferred method for valuable or irreplaceable items.

Quickness: Non-destructive scanning is slightly slower because it involves scanning each page individually without harming the original.

Simplicity: It requires a bit more effort to ensure no damage to the original documents.

Recommendation for Beginners: This method is more suitable for beginners who want to digitize their books and documents without compromising their physical condition.

Non-destructive scanning takes more time, but it's my preferred choice, especially for personal collections and valuable books. I've used this method extensively and found it to be the best for preserving the quality and sentimental value of the original items. It may require more patience, but it's worth it.

2. Destructive book scanning

Destructive scanning is a process where a book's pages are physically taken apart or cut off to be scanned. This damages the book because its original form is changed. The pages are then scanned to create a digital copy. While it makes a digital version of the book, the physical book is permanently altered and often destroyed in the process. This method is not suitable for preserving books or rare materials, but it can be faster for creating digital copies.

Here’s how you can carry out Destructive book scanning on your own:

Step 1: Begin by assembling all the books or documents you wish to scan. Make sure to remove papers from original book binding or cover.

Book with binding

Step 2: Organize your materials in the desired scanning order.

Step 3: Configure scanning parameters, including resolution (DPI), color mode, and file format, typically in PDF.

Step 4: Place the first book or page carefully, face down, on the scanner bed of your book scanner.

A person carefully placing papers on the scanner bed

Step 5: Post-scanning, assess the quality of the scanned images.

Step 6: Safeguard the digital copies on your computer or external storage and categorize them into organized folders for convenient retrieval.

Step 7: With the digital copy secured, you can consider binding the original material to preserve it.

This method is expedient but carries the risk of potential damage to the original documents. It's not recommended for preserving valuable or irreplaceable items. Many individuals who cherish their book collections opt to keep their books intact.

Why Destructive Scanning?

Quickness: Destructive scanning is generally quicker, as it involves physically taking apart books or documents for scanning. However, this process can still be time-consuming.

Simplicity: It's a relatively simple method in terms of the scanning process itself.

Recommendation for Beginners: Destructive scanning can be suitable for those who are in a hurry to digitize content and don't mind sacrificing the physical copies.

While destructive scanning is efficient, I wouldn't recommend it for valuable or sentimental items. It's ideal for creating digital backups when preserving the original isn't a concern. I've used this method for quickly digitizing textbooks, but I would hesitate to use it for cherished books or rare documents.

Practical tips for scanning books

Here are some key points to keep in mind to enhance the quality of your digital book scans:

  • Invest in the Right Software:

The choice of scanning software is paramount for achieving quality digital copies. Opt for robust OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software like WPS Office, which combines OCR with AI capabilities to provide highly accurate scans. This not only saves time but also enhances the quality of your scans.

  • Set the Optimal Resolution:

Adjust your scanner settings to capture images at an appropriate resolution. For text documents, a resolution of 300-600 DPI (dots per inch) is generally ideal. Remember, the higher the DPI, the better the end result in terms of image clarity and text recognition.

  • Copyright Awareness:

Always be mindful of copyright laws when scanning books. Ensure that you have the legal right to scan a book or that it falls within the public domain before proceeding.

  • Efficient Batch Scanning:

When dealing with multiple books, streamline your scanning process by utilizing batch scanning techniques. Certain scanners, such as WPS Office, allow you to scan multiple pages at once, saving you valuable time and effort.

  • Use a High-Quality Mobile Phone:

The quality of your scanned books can be significantly influenced by your mobile phone's camera. Opt for a mobile device with a good camera to capture sharp and clear images. This ensures that your digital copies faithfully represent the original pages.

Benefits of scanning books to PDF

Scanning books to PDF provides a range of advantages:

  • Preservation: Safeguards physical book content from damage or deterioration.

  • Searchability: Facilitates quick content retrieval using keywords or phrases.

  • Space Efficiency: Frees up physical storage space in your home or office.

  • Annotation: Enhances the reading experience with options for highlighting and note-taking.

  • Sharing: Simplifies sharing with others for personal or educational use.

  • Accessibility: Allows adaptation for users with visual impairments.

  • Backup: Offers security in case of physical book loss or damage.

  • Remote Access: Enables access from anywhere with an internet connection.

  • Cost-Effective: An economical means to create a digital library once you have the necessary equipment or software.

Best Free PDF Editor - WPS PDF

WPS PDF, a part of the WPS Office suite, is a powerful PDF editing software with PDF to other file formats conversion capabilities. When you download WPS Office, you get more than just a PDF editing tool; you also gain access to other essential office applications like Writer, Presentation, and Spreadsheet. Additionally, the mobile version of WPS Office offers OCR functionalities, enabling you to scan your books or documents and convert them to PDFs for free.


You can make the most of your scanned documents by using WPS Office's PDF editing tools to annotate or sign PDFs. If you want to securely store your documents, WPS Office provides cloud services through WPS Cloud, ensuring your files are safely stored. WPS Office is known for its high level of security, making it a reliable choice for sharing your scanned documents converted into PDFs with others. It's a versatile and comprehensive solution for all your office needs.

How to use WPS Office to scan books into PDF

Step 1: Open WPS Office on your iPhone and tap on the "Tools" button at the bottom of the screen.

iPhone WPS Tools

Step 2: Select the "Doc Scanner" option under the "Image Processing" section.

iPhone WPS OCR Doc Scanner

Step 3: Your iPhone's camera will activate, and WPS Office offers three different functions for OCR. Choose the "File Scanning" feature.

iPhone WPS OCR functions

Step 4: Begin taking photos of your documents. If a photo appears unclear, you can use the "Retake" option. WPS Office mobile allows you to take multiple photos.

Step 5: If you're using an Android device, WPS Office provides an additional feature called "Bending Correction", powered by WPS AI. This AI feature removes any skewness from your images.

WPS AI Android Bending correction feature

Step 6: Once you've finished taking photos, tap on the "Photo" option at the bottom right.

iPhone WPS OCR File scanning

Step 7: You'll be directed to the Preview page, where you can review the photos you've taken. WPS AI will also help by cropping and enhancing the images.

Step 8: To arrange your pictures in the desired order, long-press the photos and drag them into position.

iPhone WPS OCR drag feature to arrange

Step 9: Tap on "Export" at the bottom right to export the scanned images.

iPhone WPS OCR Export

Step 10: In the "Select Export Format" screen, choose "Export to PDF" to convert the scanned document into a PDF format.

iPhone WPS OCR Export to PDF

Step 11: Tap on "Save" at the bottom right to save the scanned PDF on your mobile device or save it on WPS Cloud for secure storage and easy access.

iPhone WPS OCR save PDF

How to Use WPS Ai for Book Text Extraction: Guide for Beginners

Step 1: Launch WPS Office on your mobile device and tap the "+ Create" icon.

WPS AI Android Create

Step 2: Select "Scanner" to create a new OCR Document.

WPS AI Android Scanner

Step 3: Choose the document you want to scan, and tap the Camera button to access the scanning interface.

Step 4: WPS OCR will activate, scanning the text from the document, and WPS AI will enhance the scanning process, ensuring all details are accurately identified.

Step 5: Once the scanning is complete, tap "Done" and then confirm by selecting the checkmark icon.

WPS AI Android Done

Step 6: Click on Export Document, and then click on Export to PDF to create a PDF of your scanned document.

WPS AI Android Export to PDF

Step 7: You can now copy the text from the document and save it in another file.

WPS AI proves to be an excellent tool for book scanning, offering a free book scanning solution with the added benefit of AI capabilities. This results in enhanced images with more visible and clear text. Give WPS AI a try now!

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Algirdas Jasaitis


Q1. Can I scan a book for personal use?

Scanning a book for personal use may be deemed an infringement of copyright law, as this action frequently necessitates making an imitation of the book's content without obtaining prior consent from the copyright holder. This principle holds regardless of whether the scanning is planned for personal use, for a library, for an educational institution, or for a research project. It is important to respect copyright laws and, if required, seek proper authorization or use alternative legal means to access and use copyrighted materials.

Q2. What is the best way to scan a book?

Using a specialized book scanner is the most effective method to scan a book. It guarantees that the book is scanned at a high resolution while maintaining the physical copy. You can produce a digital version of the book that maintains its quality and use it for archival purposes using a book scanner. This approach is particularly beneficial for preserving valuable or rare books without causing damage during the scanning process.

WPS PDF: Empowering Book Preservation and Digital Libraries

In an age where digital convenience is paramount, the preservation and accessibility of books are more important than ever. We cherish books as valuable companions in our growth, but we don't always wish to carry them around. This has led to the rise of book scanning to PDF, but not everyone is aware about how to scan a book to PDF, a process that not only ensures your books remain intact but also allows you to build your own digital library. We recommend using WPS Office, whether you're using an iPhone or Android device, this mobile solution, combined with WPS AI capabilities, makes book scanning an effortless and rewarding endeavor. So why wait? Download WPS PDF and begin your journey to digitizing your book collection and enhancing your reading experience today.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.