How To Convert Scanned Pages Into eReader eBook Format

Simon Slangen 24-01-2010

hindlerI find myself being obsessed with eBooks lately — probably because I’ve just entered the world. But while making my first steps, I keep discovering new and impressive feats.


In the past, we’ve already talked about stripping Mobi and PRC files of their DRM protection How To Remove DRM from MOBI and PRC eBooks Read More (read: restriction), where to find free eBooks 5 Sites With Lots of Completely Free Ebooks That Don't Suck If you know where to look, you can snag free ebooks to read online, download to your computer, or transfer to your Kindle. Read More , and reviewed Calibre Calibre - Mighty eBook Management Software Read More , quite possibly the best management suite.

This time, I’d like to talk about a problem I’ve had with some of my eBooks, and a convenient (albeit improvised) solution. I’m talking about displaying scanned or pre-formatted eBooks in a readable eReader eBook format.

What’s The Fuss About?

Reading on an eReader is fantastic. You won’t hear me saying anything negative in that area. But to be able to enjoy a good read, you first need to be able to read the damn thing.

Normally, most eReaders come equipped with a zooming feature. A hit of a button can take your text up to ridiculous point sizes. The only problem is when you’ve got eBooks that are in fact only scans of paper novels and not quite eReader eBook format. Being bitmap images, your eReader cannot rescale the individual text areas, and you end up with A4 or A5 pages on a 5″ display.

convert scanned pages to ereader


A related problem occurs when you’ve got pre-formatted text. Resizing of course works great, but your once perfect text alignments are now screwed up. A great example are coding eBooks, where the alignment and formatting of text go a great way to making it accessible in eReader eBook format.

Cropping Your eBook – PDFill PDF Tools

Yes, the solution is as simple as that. We’re going to crop away those unnecessary margins. If you look at you’re document, you’ll probably notice that it has a ridiculous amount of whitespace at either side. Sure, it looks fine and makes the document printer-friendly, but if your document gets ‘scaled to fit’, that’s one thing you don’t need.

If you’re on a Mac, you can just use Preview for the job. Same story if you happen to have Adobe Acrobat Pro. There’s not a lot of freeware that allows you to work those PDFs, but PDFill PDF Tools works just fine.

Know that although the real PDFill suite is proprietary, PDF Tools is complete free, for personal AND commercial use. No need to worry about a watermark either.


ereader ebook format

In the application, be sure to highlight All pages. Discovering the correct margin settings is trial and error – 1″ left and right, and 1.2″ top and bottom works if you don’t mind losing the page number.

Strange enough, this often suffices to make the document readable. You also might want to adjust your eReader to a landscape view.

Taking Apart The Bitmaps

Sometimes the resulting document still doesn’t meet your requirements. Your other option is a little more drastic, but it continues where the previous method left of. Basically, what we’re going to do is cut all our pages in two pieces – top and bottom – with overlapping parts. First, we’re doing a double crop, and then we’ll need to put all pages back together in the right other.


Start out by duplicating your document and putting it in separate folders. Crop one of the documents towards the top half, the other to the bottom.

Next, still using the same application, export the first (top) document to a series of PNG images, and the second (bottom) document to TIFF.

view scans on ereader

You’ll notice that you’ve got two identically named series of images, with the only difference being the extension. You can now safely join those two collections in one folder. If you sort the files by name, you’ll notice that the pages have mixed perfectly (that’s because PNG comes before TIFF in the alphabet).


How To Convert Scanned Pages Into eReader eBook Format pdftool images pdf

Still using the same application, we can now join those images into one PDF. The PNG/TIFF export alphabet trick has saved you a ton of time moving the page halves into place.

Note that you can also use it if you’ve got a double scan (two pages, side by side). First making a vertical, then a horizontal crop separation.

Know any other cool tricks? Let us know in the comments section below!

Related topics: Amazon Kindle, Ebooks, eReader, PDF, PDF Editor, Reading.

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  1. Beatriz Waves
    March 25, 2018 at 4:31 pm

    Thank you so much!
    The scan documents I had to adjust had 2 pages in 1, so it toke longer to make it fit in my Kindle. Here is how I did:
    I cropped the document twice, each with odd/even real pages, then I merged them back, 1 page in 1. Good, but after that, I had to reorder the pages... I used a number generator to not have to tap 1 to 216, but yet I had do reorder manually, like: 1, 109, 2, 110, 3, 111, .... it toke some long 5 mins, plus some risk of error and of having to restart all over again...
    If anyone know some software or web page which can reorder a number sequence like this in 3 seconds, automatically, please let me know... ;P Because the documents I have to read at university are mainly 2 pages in 1 scans pdfs...

  2. panduranga
    July 18, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Can I scan my thesis and get it converted into an -book? If how? What are the costs?

  3. Frankacy
    January 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Is there no program out there that will allow you to convert text pdfs into a reflow-capable format? I'd imagine a solution such as this would work for at least 75% of the books out there.

    • Simon Slangen
      January 24, 2010 at 6:16 pm

      Depends on the quality of the bitmaps. Screenshots of digitally rendered text can be easily processed with OCR software. Scanned novels don't always give good results, with their skewed and often distorted levels. The applicability of OCR software is proportionate to the quality of your scans.

      Check out //

    • Bob Z
      June 11, 2018 at 2:56 am

      If you are talking about real PDF files that are mainly text. Adobe PDF reader version 9
      has an option to "save as a text file".
      Then just import the text file into Calibre as book, and convert to whatever you need.

      I think version 5 has a "save as text file" also

  4. Ben
    January 24, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Convert images into PDF is simple.

    But how do I get the images (with a lot of grayscale, colors and other noise) into to a monochrome (two-colored, high contrast) document???

    • Simon Slangen
      January 24, 2010 at 6:28 pm

      Simply making them monochrome will delete too much 'grey' data. You'll and up with crispy distorted levels. What you want to do is add brightness and contrast, and limit your levels.

      Sadly, I don't know of a free batch-processing tool that can do all these things. You could use a retail application, or create a macro to process all your images in Paint.NET.

      • Simon Slangen
        January 24, 2010 at 6:29 pm

        * distorted letters

      • Ben
        January 25, 2010 at 5:31 am

        Yes, that's my problem. That are to many steps and distorted letters!

        Here is a glue for a free batch-processing tool:
        It's called "Snapter"
        But unfortunately it's just shareware. =/

        I guess using OCR (like you posted down below) should be the best choice. rocks!
        Best regards from Germany,

  5. Similgoogle
    January 24, 2010 at 11:15 am

    Er...can't you use a simple .txt file?

    • Simon Slangen
      January 24, 2010 at 11:27 am

      Of course - if you have one. But for a lot of eBooks txt/EPUB/PRC/etc. just don't exist, and you have to make do with what you've got.

  6. moss
    January 24, 2010 at 6:35 pm

    I've used Tweak all to PDF converter to convert my files to PDF, it's more poweful, I recommend: