Destructive or Non-Destructive Scanning

“The first decision to be made is whether to opt for destructive or non-destructive scanning.”

If you can afford to lose the book, always opt for destructive scanning. This is because:

  • It’s cheaper. Destructive scanning starts at £5.99 whereas non-destructive starts at £25 per book plus 10p a page.
  • It’s faster (see the homepage and footer for the current estimate). There is also the option of a Rush Delivery service which we cannot offer for non-destructive scanning. For non-destructive scanning, each page is carefully held in place by the operator and this takes significantly longer.
  • The results are better. For destructive scanning, because the spine is removed, each page can be scanned flat and so the text appears in the scanned version exactly as it looks in the original. With non-destructive scanning the book is held open and scanned from above. Whilst our corrective software is excellent, the curvature in the centre of the book can still cause the lines of text to slope slightly on some pages. Additionally certain kinds of binding, such as ring or nail binding, will be visible in the resulting scan. With destructive scanning these are removed and so do not appear in the scanned files.

There are also some limitations of Non-Destructive Scanning

Strong Binding is needed. Books have to be opened and held in place whilst they’re scanned. If it’s only a thin layer of glue holding the pages to the spine, some pages could easily come out. Try it yourself. Hold your book open and look at the binding. Will it hold with every page being held in this way?

The thickness of the book has to be 1.5″ or under. Any more than this and the curvature becomes too pronounced. If your book is over 1.5″ and you would still like your book scanned, email us at for details.

Maximum of 10 per order. Due to the time involved in non-destructive scanning there’s a maximum of 10 books in any one order. There are no restrictions in place for destructive scanning.

Advantage of Non-Destructive Scanning

If your book is bound well and under 1.5″ in thickness, then the major advantage of non-destructive scanning is that you receive your book back intact. This is ideal for old precious books, diaries or journals.

Thankfully most of the books where non-destructive scanning is desirable are older, precious books. These older books usually have strong binding using, most commonly, glue and stitching. It is mainly newer books that use a thin layer of glue.