The December holidays have passed and there’s no doubt – given the lines at the Nook counter at Barnes and Noble – that book reading has changed immensely in the last 5 years or so. Indeed, the era of the e-book is here to stay and more and more individuals find e-reading the way to go when it comes to reading convenience.

That said, many of us are still owners of vast libraries of traditional paper books that perhaps we’d like to own in some other, more convenient format. That’s where companies like Bound Book Scanning enter the picture. This New York-based company, established in 2010, offers options for transferring any traditional book (novels, text books, rare editions, manuscripts, etc.) to an editable Word doc or searchable PDF file, eBook format, or MP3 audio book.

Intriguing! I could think of a number of uses for these services. For example, authors like me could use book scanning to republish out-of-print books and students would find it convenient for instant search and indexing. However, being the recent recipient of an e-reader, I wanted to check it out purely for the purpose of converting some favorite old paper books – both hard- and soft-bound – to a format that could come along with me on the train or wherever I take advantage of this new, convenient way to consume books.

The process seemed simple enough. I would choose the book I wanted scanned, send to off to Bound Book in Airmont, New York (a small village in Rockland County near the NJ border), and – in just three days after it landed in their offices – I’d receive the files in the format which I selected. Definitely worth a try!

One of the first choices I had to make was whether to choose their “destructive” or “non-destructive” services. For the former, the spine of the book is removed and the pages are cut at the margins. Obviously, the book is not returned with this option. As my choice of book to be scanned was a favorite biography that is no longer published but not rare, I chose the destructive method, which is less expensive.

Had I been considering having a rare book scanned, I obviously would have chosen the non-destructive option. Not yet being familiar with Bound Book and their services, however, I didn’t want to take my chances on relinquishing a treasured book. Don’t think I had a problem with Bound Book potentially destroying it; it was more an issue of not trusting the U.S. Postal Service to get it there and back.

Anyway, I looked at the parameters for destructive scanning, saw that my book qualified (maximum page size: 8.5″W x 12″H), and decided to give it a try. After all, if this worked, it would be a wonderful way to quickly and inexpensively allow me to have a number of favorite old books at my fingertips and in my Nook.

Bound Book promised a 3-day turnaround from the date of receipt of my book and – in this case – they were able to deliver. The company does note that from time to time they get backed up and the 3-day turnaround turns into 5 or 6 days. They do, however, offer a rush service, which allows you to get the files you need in a mere 24 hours when necessary. Of course, that costs extra, though I didn’t price it since I didn’t need it.

So, out went my book via Media Mail (the USPS offers excellent prices for this form of mail – i.e. $3.23 for 3 lbs.), and 3 days after they received it, I had the eBook files I wanted. And I was certainly pleased! The quality was good and the company had obviously used excellent equipment that produced a more-than-suitable end product. Furthermore, the cost was affordable at $13.95 plus $.05 per page, bringing my total to less than $25. Payment was easy to make and there was little hassle involved.

Would I do this with all my books? Probably not. Would I trust Bound Book with my rare collectibles (of which I only own precious few)? I’m not sure yet. The jury is still out though the quality and efficiency associated with my first experience leads me to believe they’d take good care of them.

My one concern, primarily because I am an author myself, is the whole copyright issue. On their website, Bound Book states that it is “the customer’s responsibility to insure compliance with all copyright laws, as Bound Book Scanning cannot be held liable for any copyright infringement.” That concerns me a little, though I know that copyright infringement happens every day on the copy machines at Staples and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Overall, however, this first experience with Bound Book Scanning was a positive one. I’d use them again and am intrigued by some of their other services. For example, as a writer who does lots of research, I was drawn to an item which noted that they have access to large libraries in NYC where they can find a particular out-of-print book and scan it for you for an extra fee. In many instances, I’d find that to be an invaluable service.