Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Free digitization through the mail

Scribd announced on April 1 its new Convert Your Paper to iPaper program. (As the announcement says, despite the date, it's not an April Fools joke.) The offer: you mail hardcopy documents to Scribd, they scan them for free and publish the document online. (Thanks to Boing Boing.)

... Is this really free?
Yes. We offset the cost of scanning by serving relevant advertisements on scanned documents.

What kinds of documents can you scan?
Scribd uses highly advanced scanning technology provided by our partners to scan and OCR documents at high volume. Our scanners can scan almost any written documents, but be sure to contact us for details about your particular materials.

How do I participate?
Email with information about your paper documents. Please include an estimate of the number of pages you have. A Scribd representative will reply with information about how and where to mail the documents.

Are there any additional restrictions?
Yes. To use the "Convert Your Paper to iPaper program", you must:

  1. Have full legal rights to any content you send us.
  2. Not be in a hurry. It will take time - weeks, at least - to get your content scanned.
  3. Agree to have your content published on

Also, please realize that Scribd may choose to not scan materials at our discretion, and that this program will be available for a limited time only.

Scribd uses a Flash viewer to the display the documents online, but offers a download option and integrated Creative Commons licensing. No word on whether they send you the paper back when they're done.

Comment. Unless I hear otherwise, I wouldn't rely on this for archival-quality scans and careful handling of fragile documents. But if you're not worried about this, it is free -- time to dig up that old dissertation?