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Plustek OpticBook 4900 "Edge" Scanner


After using a standard flat bed scanner I could see that damage to 80 year old books, in particular covers and centerfolds separating, was often unavoidable due to the need to "flatten" the comic pages onto the scanner. I switched to a CZUR ET24 Pro Overhead Scanner with curve correction for some more valuable books to avoid damage. The scan results are not as good as documented elsewhere, color dots are smeared and blacks are inconsistent in line width. The results did not match the claimed resolution of 320 dpi, being heavily processed by the CZUR software and not replaceable with any other software for the scan capture process.

While discussing other solutions on a scan post I saw mention of edge scanners. You place the page to be scanned on the edge of the scanner, and the facing pages hang down at a 90 degree angle, so there is much less stress on the pages. Some DCM posters have used Plustek 3600 or 3800 edge scanners. The 3800L is current and has a 6mm "book edge" area. The more expensive 4900 has a claimed 2mm "book edge" area. I decided to try the 4900 for comic scanning. It sells for $499.

In practice it seems the edge keep out is closer to 3mm, but that is good enough for most comics. The Plustek provided software was terrible. Fortunately an alternative is available called VueScan which supports thousands of scanners (not CZUR though). VueScan costs $24.95 to $99.95 depending on the version. It worked perfectly and I've had no issues with the scan quality or usability.

Attached is an image of the scanner with a comic placed for scanning. Usually I will hold the vertical pages against the scanner to relieve stress to the staple attachment area.

The following three comics were scanned with a Plustek OpticBook 499 Scanner using VueScan software. The results have been excellent and I will use this scanner moving forward, including eventual redoing of the CZUR scans.

Thrilling Comics #2
Exciting Comics #2
Mystery Comics #2

I love my Opticbook 3600 and will likely make my next scanner some variety of A3 plustek. I love the color of the raw scans.

The edge feature certainly is a book saver (and you are right that care can be taken with how you hold a spine), but I'd note it's not a panacea for books with tight margins. 

The book edge has other nice uses, too, though, in that you can scan many types of books quickly and with no spine shadow.

The downside to me of at least my opticbook is how often I have to clean the inside of the glass or more annoyingly the bulb.  Usually compressed air will do the trick for the bulb (you will notice green streaks through your scan hairs and whatnot have clung to the bulb jacking the saturation will help identify these) but sometimes I'll use a little swab or optical lens cloth with maybe a little alcohol.  Of course, I scan a lot of very brittle pulp and my scan area sometimes looks like a snowglobe.  A second downside might be that the customer service is a bit ghosty and that a new machine is often a better solution than repair.  But scanners including myself keep going back when the time comes for a new machine.

As for Vuescan, it's pretty amazing how many scanners use it with different operating systems and older scanners.  Careful, though, it's not a universal problem solver for scanners that won't work on newer computers  :D

Loving the scans, Dynamo!

Hi Guys,
Thanks for your posts.  It's quite interesting to hear you 'talking shop' about your scanners.
I encourage you to continue.  And any other scanners out there that would like to talk about their machines and techniques.


I hadn't noticed the Plustek OpticBook A300 Plus A3 scanner with 2mm book edge scanning until now. At $1499 I would have stayed with the A4 sized 4900 anyway.

I believe the Plustek 3600 had a 6mm book edge scan. Even with the 4900 2mm good edge scan there were 4-5 pages in the Mystery Comics #2 scan that I did the old fashioned way, because the comic border was compromised in the scan.The 1944 comic had the narrower pages while the border size may be the same so that seemed to be a worse case than the earlier 1940 comics with wider pages. I also had to fix many Mystery #2 pages after rotation/correction to give some page tone back at the book center scan edges. The images are often skewed right on the comic page. You are right, it still isn't perfect but getting the flattening down to a few pages is much safer than doing all of them.

Thanks for all the work you're doing to bring them to the site AD!
I especially enjoy days when I can retire a fiche only scan like I did today with TWO books!



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