Getting fed up of that the troublesome physical library you have hanging round your neck? Can’t face building more shelves? The Digital Reader tells us of used-book bookseller, Better World Books, who offer to scan a book you buy from them and send you a searchable PDF rather than the physical book (which is destroyed in the scanning process). The scan adds between $1 and $3 to the book price.

Here’s a link to an article from Book Business a couple of years ago announcing a subscription service, 1Dollar Scan, who will scan your old books and replace them with PDFs. The Digital Reader has used this service and offers an analysis. The results, which naturally will cost you more than the $1 their name has set you up to think about, are a little hazy because they apply descreening software to all pages: this helps the halftones, but does the opposite for the text. A professional operation applies the descreening only to the halftone, leaving the text alone — this obviously costs operator time which these guys are not going to provide. Not sure I agree with their conclusion: “For me, it’s attractive to convert books I never expect to actually read again but do want to keep for reference and research. Not only can I find and access the electronic version more quickly but the PDF search feature makes it quick and easy to find specific information. And if I want to quote a passage in something I’m writing I can easily cut and paste. For most books in this category it’s worthwhile to digitize it if it’s worth keeping at all.” I kind of think if it’s worth keeping at all, it’s worth keeping it all.

For a price Amazon offers you a more do-it-yourself scanning option. TechCrunch brought us the story. This UK company, Pearl Scan seems to offer a wide range of services.

Not sure I really see the point of all this. If you have a book, why bother to get it digitized? It’s not quite the same as converting your analog LP collection to MP3 format — though I suppose the motivation might not be that dissimilar. Apart from clutter-reduction, you convert from a medium which requires you to stay in one place (at your record-player) to access it, to a format which is available to you as you wander around. But hang on, a book isn’t like an LP. You can already access it anywhere. You don’t need to put it into a “book player”. Still, there are of course lots of people who prefer an e-book to a p-book — though at a $1 per 100 pages? There might be one situation where this could be of value — but you would have to have access to non-destructive scanning — that would be when you want a copy of your friend’s book or some old out-of-print library book. You’d need to be able to give back the original, and you can do this. Bound Book Scanning will non-destructively scan your book for $21.95 + 9 cents a page, which might motivate you to try the used-book market after all.