When BJ & I knew for certain that we were shedding our belongings and moving overseas to focus on RetreaTours, it was almost a relief.  Getting rid of all sorts of clothes I didn’t wear, shoes I forgot I owned, kitchen appliances I didn’t even know how to use…you get the point.  It was a load off our backs, literally and figuratively.  However, the one sticking point was our book collection.  Neither of us are the worst offenders I know (maybe that means we don’t read enough?) but we surely had a large enough collection that we couldn’t wrap our brains around ditching it.  We didn’t want to put them in storage (moldy books are no fun), we didn’t want to ask our parents to hold boxes upon boxes of heavy volumes—not to mention that you can’t READ books that are 11,000 miles away!  If only there were a way to bring these books with us…

That’s where 1dollarscan.com came in.  After a bit of research and communication with the company (who is very prompt to reply to email queries), we were sold.  1dollarscan.com is based in San Jose, CA, and is a part of the Japanese company zLibro, Inc.  Here’s the short version:  you send them your precious books, they ever-so-gently chop the spine off, scan the pages, and then recycle the paper.  Yes, there are services that will return the books to you, but not only are they very expensive, but then you are still stuck with the “What do I do with these thousands of books?” quandary.  I prefer the clean elegance of this method…very Buddhist sense of non-attachment and the like, right?  Sure.

You can choose to “fine tune” your files for your e-reader of choice, but it’s not necessary.  I ran out of time before we left for our adventure and then just never got around to it, so I read my files as .pdfs on my iPad.  One of these days I’ll get around to optimizing them for the iPad.  One of these days I will also get around to learning how to use a Kindle (oh hush, I’ve been busy for the last 5 years) since 1dollarscan.com also supports that format.

I was particularly appreciative of their services for my countless Chinese medicine text books.  I spent hours and hours highlighting and writing notes in the margins of these thick tomes that cost me between $100 and $200 a pop—there was no way I was getting rid of them or leaving them to rot.  Now that I have my own digital copy of my own book with my own notes, I can refer to them any ol’ time (note: digitizing the margin notes doesn’t make them more sensible. Ever have those “What was I thinking?” moments when you re-read old books you’ve scribbled in?)

BJ & I chose to go with the platinum membership over the course of a few months; that way we could have 100 sets (1 set = 100 pages, more or less) scanned each month with all the bells and whistles.  My favorite perk of the platinum membership is free OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, which makes your book searchable. If you want to have fewer pages scanned, that is always an option—usually at $1 per set, with all the additional add-ons for an extra fee.   1dollarscan.com might not be the best option if all of your books are inexpensive and very thick (like a lot of paperback novels can be) or just a few pages over a hundred mark—that is, a book with 302 pages is considered 4 “sets” of 100; the sets are counted on a per-book basis, not a per-order basis, unfortunately.  However, if you have some pretty expensive books (like most textbooks or art books are), it ends up being a great bargain.

If you are traveling, moving, or downsizing for any other reason, consider 1dollarscan.com for making your library portable and accessible.  We were very pleased with their services and cost, and even shipping the books (media rate) from FL to CA was reasonable.  You can contact 1dollarscan.com via their website or their Facebook page.  There will surely be romantics at heart that can’t bear to part with their “flesh and blood” books, and that’s totally understandable. But for those of you less attached to the actual book and more interested in the author’s words and your notes, 1dollarscan.com is a perfect solution.

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