Turning Typed Book into E-Book

I have a friend who has a book written by his mother-- it’s her autobiography, and it comprises 600 typed pages. Currently it’s bound, similar to the way theses and dissertations are bound (don’t know what that’s called). He wants to turn this into an e-book to preserve it and share with the family. This will necessitate taking it apart and scanning all the pages, and we both feel this would best be handled by a service bureau of some kind. (He has three originals, so one can cut apart for scanning.)

We googled “document scanning” and came up with some options, but I was wondering if any dopers know of a place that will do this. My friend knows this won’t be cheap, so he’s not trying to low-ball it. He just wants it done competently. Doesn’t have to be in Texas.

I don’t know if there’s a policy here about recommending specific businesses, so anyone is welcome to PM me.

Any tips and pointers also welcome.

There’s no particular rush, but my friend is mid-70’s in age and has Parkinson’s… so he wants to get this show on the road soon. Thanks.

Just want to point out: The software that is used for this is called OCR-Optical Character Recognition. But it sounds like you may want someone who actually takes the time to type it all out and thus watch for mistakes.

Yeah, okay, this is mostly just a bump so others can see this.

Yeah, I would agree that you don’t want just a scan of this. That will mean lots of mistakes end up in the finished product, and it’s harder to fix them then.

You could check with a place like Amazon - they work out deals with people who want to self-publish, but I don’t know that they would work with someone who doesn’t want to SELL their work.

You could also check out small presses - google search “vanity press” or “vanity publish” to see what companies pop up.

My real suggestion would be “print on demand” presses, and I think all of them will have different requirements and specifications as to the format that the manuscript has to be formatted for submission. Some major PoD players are Lulu, Bookpatch, and CafePress (that last one started out as t-shirts and novelty printing). Most of them are going to at least want the manuscript as a .pdf format, and then beyond that the specifics of the formatting is up to the individual company.

For actually getting the doc into a pdf file format, you could check with copy companies - ones who work with large companies/corporations/law/medical firms a lot, or even the local Kinkos. They’ll get it done workmanlike, but they won’t be busting their asses to catch mistakes or fix things if something screws up in the scanning process, so it would be on you to catch that sort of thing afterwards and fix it.
If it were me, I would consider finding a local English or journalism or webdesign department in a college and asking someone there if they would give me a quote for them proofreading, scanning, and then re-proofing the scans of mom’s manuscript. Then you can get the resulting file printed up at a print-on-demand place pretty cheaply.

A scanner costs about $40; you can do it yourself. They usually come with OCR software as part of the package. You will have to feed the pages individually, but you can then save them as an editable document and go over them with a spell check.

This part is really important. I can’t tell you how many OCR documents I’ve read with mistakes like a number “1” instead of a capital “I” or lowercase “l”, and the letter “b” instead of the letters “lo” (etc). So convert the document via OCR first, sure. But a couple people will need to give it a few good readthroughs to catch all the errors.

After you have done all that, you could also pay a professional editor to look over it. You can find one on the Dope (I’ve seen a few people offering their services in this line of work before), although I don’t know what they tend to charge. There is probably a standard per-page or per-hour fee that they can explain to you.

Well, it wouldn’t just be spell-check, since that trips on correct-but-uncommon, and incorrect-but-common stuff (e.g. the Department of Housing and Urban Development does not, in fact, have a sub-organization that deals with Pubic Housing :p).

I wonder if there aren’t some tools out there that let you retype and compare to the OCR’ed version. As in, you OCR the whole thing, then retype it page by page into a computer program, and it alerts you to when there’s a difference. Back when I did data entry for summer jobs, we would basically type everything twice (verifying, it was called) and the machine would alert to differences.

He does have a scanner, but just didn’t want to have to do all 600 pages himself.

Spell-check and corrections not all that important. Since his mom typed this with her own hands (and she was not a native English speaker), he might want the mistakes to be left in. IOW this would be a facsimile of the original with all her glitches and typos.

Would having pdf-files (breaking it out into chapters or sections) be a bad thing? If that would work, virtually any place with a big expensive copier could do it easily (in my small library, I have machines that could do this in a matter of an hour or less and automatically e-mail the results.) It would be more a matter of finding logical breaks in the text and making sure it scans cleanly.

Can he get the book apart by himself? If so then maybe they have a really nice scanner at work that will email the document. We have a really nice one here at work and I have done that many times. It will not take 600 pages, but a PDF can be combined which is what I did.

Granted there maybe problems with the OCR, but that would be minor I would think. If they live near DC I’d do it for them no problem, take a day or so, but that’s about it.

But if you PDF it there is no need to OCR it. The PDF is an e-book.

An e-book that will be an exact facsimile of the original :slight_smile:

Quite a few people on another forum I read have used bookscan.us to do the scanning. The shipping is more than the cost of scanning (~$1 a book) and they upload the resulting PDF to Dropbox for you. Your friend will still need to do the OCR step and some proofreading himself.

Here is the Editorial Freelance Association list of common rates. http://www.the-efa.org/res/rates.php

I’d think typing would run about the same as transcription. The editing that you’d want (if any) would be basic copy edit (for wrong words, punctuation, etc. )

I agree that finding a copy machine that will email you documents is the best way to get it into PDF. From the PDF, you can export it out to a text document if you still want it to be made into an ebook format other than PDF (like ePub/Nook or Kindle formats) – but I think you can still view a PDF file on those devices, so you don’t have to do the other formats if you don’t want to.

If you end up with multiple PDF files because the copier needed to have fewer number of pages per ‘copy’, you can PM me and I can stitch them into one file for you.

IF you want a printed/paper book (Print on Demand), look at CreateSpace.

You can upload everything for free, then only pay when you order the books. If you have an 8.5x11 document scanned into PDF, it is possible that you could just upload that (if it meets their pdf requirements) and only have to add a cover. They have a variety of stock covers that you could choose from (some are quite nice), so you wouldn’t have to pay a cover artist. Depending on the quality of the originals, this could produce a nice book or if the originals are faded, maybe not as nice as hoped. So, if you go that route, you should just order one proof before you order a bunch of them.

Avoid true vanity press where you pay them thousands to ‘publish’ the book, because the books will end up costing you more to buy even after you’ve paid them all that money up front.

Here is the KindleBoards Yellow Pages for author services. KindleBoards is a forum for people who self-publish to Kindle and usually also print and other eformats. I can’t vouch for anyone listed there, but you could go on that forum, explain your project and ask for recommendations. http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/topic,50419.0.html

And finally, here is a free online PDF -> Text converter. http://www.convertpdftotext.net/

Thelma - You can use 1dollarscan they scan 100 pages for $1 and they also can add the OCR searchable text as you guys were saying. Just google them. You can buy a scanner but it takes a while to do it that way. I mailed in something before to them and they send you a PDF, there’s more options if I remember correctly, but that’s the gist of it. Hope that helps.

Here’s the link http://www.1dollarscan.com/

Amanda222, thanks! I sent my friend the link! :slight_smile: