Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Scanning Magazines with a Fujitsu ScanSnap

I've been meaning to write a post for quite a while now on how magazine scanning works with my Fujitsu ScanSnap S510. I've been meaning to do so for so long, actually, that in the meantime Fujitsu has discontinued the S510 and replaced it with the S1500. It looks like it has the same specs as the S510, it just scans a little faster and is more expensive. I paid $350 for my scanner from NewEgg, which may seem like a lot until you realize that it comes with a full version of Adobe Acrobat. The S1500 is $420 right now on Amazon.

The coolest thing about the ScanSnap is its auto-feeding document tray. The specs say it takes up to 50 sheets, but for most issues of scrapping magazines you can fudge it and fit a 130 page (65 sheet) or so issue into it (probably because magazine pages are thinner than regular paper). The auto-feeding tray allows you to simply dump your magazine into the hopper, press the scan button, and let the scanner and your computer do the rest of the work. Sooooooo easy!

In order for the document feeder to be able to handle a magazine, the pages have to be separated. There are several methods for doing this, my favorite being using my Mom's mat cutter (she used to have her own custom framing business and still has all the equipment) to quickly slice the spines off. If you don't have access to a mat cutter, an X-Acto knife and metal ruler are a nice substitute.

I like to start out by carefully tearing the cover off. You can cut it with the rest of the pages, but inevitably you lose part of a letter or image along the side. By tearing you preserve the whole cover in all its graphically designed glory.

After removing the cover, line your ruler up about a quarter inch from the spine of the magazine and hold it securely while trimming against it (on the spine side) with your X-Acto knife. Since I'm right handed, I flipped the magazine upside down to keep the spine on the right hand side.

The alternative method to cutting out pages is to tear them out. Hold down the right side of the magazine while gently pulling out and down on the left hand page to remove it from the spine's adhesive strip. This method takes longer than cutting and is prone to leaving frayed edges, but I have used it several times and it does work.

The second coolest thing about the ScanSnap is that it scans both sides of the page at the same time. That means no flipping the stack over and re-scanning to get the other side, and no collating necessary. Here's what the scanner looks like in action (hooked up to my MacBook).

After scanning is completed, the software starts an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) process. This is probably the third coolest thing about the ScanSnap- it makes your magazines searchable!

When the entire process is finished, you're left with a PDF file of your magazine that you can call up on your computer at any time! Pretty cool, eh?

I originally bought the ScanSnap to help tame the paper beast that was our home business filing system, but I quickly realized how useful it was for cataloging all kinds of paper. I've used it to scan receipts, manuals, articles, and all manner of paperwork, and Darren has found it very useful for scanning medical texts to use in the field when he's on overseas mission trips. What seemed like a pricey purchase at first has turned into one of the best organizational decisions I ever made!

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