How to scan books and organize space

English, Español, Français, 日本語

Which one do you prefer?

The hard copy books and documents stay forever in your shelf, and you have not re-read them for many years and cannot carry due to the weights

VS

Empty chelf, and you can carry and access to soft copy books anywhere any time

As a person who believes in the power of less, the answer was quite clear (the latter), but, I didn’t take action on this for years. Partly because I did not know how to do so (thought of having no time, but this is never the reason of not doing something).

This time, as mentioned in the previous entry, I wanted to organize my past by throwing out  books and documents, so I decided to give it a try. And interestingly, it was not difficult to figure out how to do so, because the majority of people who scanned hard copy used the same items, and addressed high level of satisfaction, so why not learning from others?

The main problem

Even in this digital world, so many people tend to prefer touch of hard copy, and in fact I am one of them. But then I figured that I didn’t re-read most of my books in the shelf, which means they were staying in the shelf without being used (and probably I would not have read in the future unless something special happened).

Also, I think some people prefer hard copy just because they get used to it over soft copy books. That is, it is the matter of habit, and the habit is something replacable.

Goal setting

For my case, it was not just regular clearn up, but it was a personal project. And as is same with every project, I needed to set goal.

In my case, the goal is quite simple: Scanning and saving every book I had in Japan and throw every paper document away before May 5th (my departure).

To achieve this, I had to buy tools and spare some time completing this work before leaving Japan, as this should not be procrastinated.

What you need to have

All you need is your laptop, book cutter, scanner, time and passion. What I didnt’ have were cutter and scanner. Based on many people who had done this work, I chose the following items.

(1) Cutter: DURODEX 200DX (black), weight 12kg, price around 350 USD (amazon)
(2) Scanner: Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500, weight 3kg, price 350 USD (store)

Although those were quite expensive shopping, I really valued this personal project, so decided to buy those. As a small tip, since (1) is quite heavy, it is better to order by amazon. For (2), if you have store nearby, you can see if you could buy cheaper (in my case) and take it to your home.

Actually there is a new version of scanner wich doesn’t require cutting. But main reason of doing this is clearn up, and if you don’t cut, you would most likely end up keeping books, which is not an ideal (at least for me).

Action

The process seemed to be complicated at first glance, but once you start, it was quite easy (and even fun!).

1. Set up scanner and connect with your computer

2. Cut book (small books are a bit difficult but you learn by doing)

No hesitation! Do it!

Voila!

3. Scan (it can scan both sides very quickly)

4. Label document in the computer
(it is better to lable type of document first so that it will be easy to sort later)

5. Repeat 2-4 (cutting, scanning and labeling).

Actually, cutting needs a bit of muscle so it can be also good workout if you cut many documents (clean up + workout = win-win!)

Also, you can scan not only books but also photos and any other documents with good quality.

Results

Number of scanned documents: 200+ documents (books, photos, etc.).

File size: 200+ documents took around 10 GB, which means I could storage one big shelf into 1 small USB drive! I copied into 3 different USB, so that I can access at home, work or outside!

Time: 10 hours to finish (excluding time of research and shopping)

Sensation: It felt extremely good as other people said. By looking at the amount of garbage (the below photo was part of it), you can see how much physical space you can clean up. Also, this can contribute to my parents who are thinking about moving out in the future.

Usefulness: Lastly, the whole point of this project is not saving but utilizing the source more efficiently. By having easy access, I already took a look at some documents I saved after leaving Japan. Had I not implemented this scanning project, I would have never reviewed those document.

Conclusion: In the end, it was a bit pricy and time consuming. But given that I could clean up so much physical space (which feels so much better), have better access to all of my documents (even in Africa) and actually started using those source, it was totally worth investing.

(For the cutter and scanner I left in Japan, my father took them after my passionate explanation of this project, so let’s see how it goes with other family member…)

Attention: be careful about sharing scanned documents

I also looked at the legality of this project. Based on the sources I looked into, as long as you use  scanned document for private use, it is still legal unless you share with wider public (sharing with family member seems to be fine, so boundary of “private use” is a bit unclear).

Learning

Scanning hard copy books/documents brought me the joy of cleaning up physical space and better access to the books and its use.

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