Trying Out 1DollarScan Scanning Services…

Although I have already scanned all of the choral octavos in my new choir library, there are a small collection of solo (and a few duet) books that also need to be scanned. In the past, I ripped apart vocal books (including my own) and used a flatbed scanner to scan those books. Most vocal books only have music on an 8.5×11 area (even though the paper is substantially larger), so you can manipulate a single page to scan all the music on the page–although you do have to try a few times to get the full page.

This isn't ideal, and it takes a lot of time. I don't recommend it.

The perfect solution would be an oversized duplex document scanner, but those start in the $3000 range.

So I've decided to look at 1DollarScan to scan these solo/duet books–about 25 total books. I just sent four books in today (7/25) and I'll report on how long it takes for them to be received and then scanned–as well as the quality and format of those scans.

1DollarScan has been mentioned by both and by Hugh Sung in his book From Paper to Pixels.

The basic concept of 1DollarScan is that you buy $1 “sets.” Each set can be used on a different number of pages. If you are scanning a book, each set covers 100 pages of that book, and you round up. So if your book is 134 pages, it will cost $2 to scan. You cannot combine books to reduce the number of sets. You can also scan business documents (I imagine this would represent a single instrumental score part) at 10 pages for each set. Business documents cost more because each document has to be individually saved and named, whereas a book is a continuous scan of pages (with a good document scanner the number of pages is irrelevant, as they almost fly through the scanner). There are other pricing options for photos, greeting cards, and more.

There are additional options for 1DollarScan, such as paying $1 to name a file, $2 for a high quality (600 dpi) scan, and more. I would personally not recommend these options, as you can easily rename a file, and the basic scan included with the $1 per set level should be more than adequate in terms of quality for the future.

The other hidden cost is shipping to the company. Four vocal books cost $3.80 to ship at the book rate. That makes it $2 to scan a vocal book of less than 100 pages, and in some cases (thick vocal books) up to $4. If you set the average at $3 per book, you would have to scan over 1000 books before justifying the cost of a large format duplex document scanner–plus factor in the time you use to scan and rename the books.

Keep in mind that you don't get the books back. This might be a deal-breaker for some. If I taught elementary band, I would send an entire stack of every method book for every instrument I use to be digitized. The convenience–in use, not only in digitizing/cost–would make it immediately worth it.

If you were scanning an instrumental library, the initial purchase of a large document scanner would probably be a good investment, as 10 pages of “documents” equals one dollar…and a single band score can easily total over 50 pages (not counting the conductor's score!)…so a single band piece could cost over $10 to scan (not including shipping). If you estimate $5 for shipping, and each piece is an average of $15, Only scanning 200 pieces would cover the cost of a large format duplex document scanner rather than using 1DollarScan.

So…1DollarScan may be a better option for the voice major rather than the instrumental major.

I will report back after these books have been scanned!



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