Frequently Asked Questions and Helpful Tips

No one wants to see their book rejected after hours of hard work, least of all us! However, we do our best to keep our standards high. Here is a list of easy-to-fix, common mistakes. If all volunteers were to follow these guidelines, as well as the proofing and scanning guidelines, we think there would be very few books rejected!


Before You Begin:


How do I do a quick word search (to search for a question on this list, for a publisher on the website, or for a phrase in the Manual)?

To search for a word, hold down Ctrl F (Ctrl button + F key) and then type whatever word you are looking for into the search bar that will pop up. You can use this to navigate our FAQs page and it is a handy trick to know.


Does Bookshare accept books without copyright information? What if they are in Public Domain?

We cannot accept anything without a copyright page. This includes introductions of works that are in the Public Domain. If any part of the work has a copyright but is missing the copyright page (such as a new forward to an old novel), we cannot accept it, even if the rest of the book is in the Public Domain.  If all of it is in the Public Domain, you must be able to prove it. 


Does Bookshare accept copyrighted dramatic works?

Generally,no. However, if the play is no longer copyrighted (pre 1920s), has no notes, introduction, or any other part of it copyrighted, then we can accept it. If it is published by a publisher we work with, we can accept it as well (for example: if Harper were to come out with a Shakespeare play with a revised introduction, someone could add it to the collection).


Does Bookshare accept digital submissions such as e-books?

No. This includes commercially available e-books, accessible digital books received by schools directly from a publisher, digital books from other accessible book providers (such as RFB&D digital books or Library of Congress (NLS) Web-Braille books), and anything else with “e-“ in front of the ISBN (e-ISBN). It does not matter if they have been converted to RTF format, we still cannot accept them due to agreements with the publishers.


How do I make sure the book is not already in the collection?

Login to the website and then:

 A. Search for the book by title or author in the advanced search or in the main search bar.

 B. Confirm that the book is not currently being worked on. To do this, go to “Volunteer Home” page. This page contains three separate places you need to check.  They are:

        a. The Books Being Scanned Wiki page:

        b. The Books in Process list:

        c. The Books Awaiting Approval list:

 C. Check The New York Times top-ten list: Bookshare® staff will add books from the top-ten list of New York Times bestsellers (in the adult fiction and non-fiction categories).  For any book released in the past two weeks, volunteers should consider whether it is likely to make the New York Times Best Seller List in the near future before getting started.


If the book is in the Bookshare collection but not in excellent condition, can I submit a better scan?

Yes, you may submit a BSO (Better Scan Of). To do this, please indicate that it is a BSO by adding “BSO” in front of the title before submitting the scan.


What if Bookshare already receives books from a publisher for a book I want to submit? Should I still submit the book if it isn’t already in the library?

Bookshare replaces volunteer submissions with publisher submissions, but, we do not know in advance which books we will receive. Therefore, your submission could be replaced at any time. To make sure that your hard work does not get replaced, please compare the publisher of the book you are working on to our list of publishers that we work with and make sure it is NOT there (or contact us to be sure). Of course, it is extremely unlikely that we will receive all books published by any given publisher. A good guideline is if the book is copyrighted before 2000, has not won any awards, and is not super popular, it is much less likely that the publishers (even the ones we do work with) will add that book into the collection. However, please remember that even if a book that you have submitted is replaced, you still will be making it available to members for a time that they would not otherwise have had access to it. Additionally, there are instances in which publishers will pull certain books from our collection. If this occurs, we replace the original submission from volunteers.


Can I scan and proofread the same book?

No, each book must be scanned and proofread by two different people to assure the highest quality.


Do you accept testing materials?

No, we cannot accept any kind of testing materials, regardless of whether it is standardized, secure, and/or norm-referenced. We also cannot accept teacher’s editions of textbooks.


What formats of scans and proofs do you accept?

We require all files to be in RTF (Rich Text Format).




Who or what is a “submitter?”

When you scan a book and add it to the checkout queue, this is called submitting a scan and you (the person who has scanned the book) are called a submitter.


What does OCR stand for?

OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition and it is especially important to Bookshare because it allows us to offer text-to-speech reading for our members. Based on the analysis of sequential lines and curves, OCR makes 'best guesses' at characters using database look-up tables to closely associate or match the strings of characters that form words.


Does my scanner need to have built-in OCR software?

No. You can use any scanner, but if you do not have a scanner with OCR software, you will need to purchase the software and install it on your computer. We recommend ABBYY Fine Reader.


What if my optimizations aren’t producing great quality?

When in doubt, go for grey-scale. Grey-scale is the best and most reliable thing to try when optimization doesn't produce the quality that you need.


Do I need to cut the pages out of my book to scan it?

No. Before you begin, run your fingers lightly through the pages to remove any possible ink, dust, or other particles. If the book is a library book, flip through the book in sections, gently pressing your fingers along the inner spine to encourage the book to lie flat. You're giving your book some flexibility stretches while not breaking its spine. This is especially important for thick books or two-page scanning mode.


Why does Bookshare recommend that the submitter leave their email in the comments section?

It is important that the proofreader be able to reach a submitter with questions about a book.


Where do I submit my completed scan?

Please see the Scanning page for more details regarding scanning.




What do I do if I have started proofreading a book but cannot complete it due to an issue with the scan itself?

First, contact the submitter to see if they can answer any questions. We ask submitters to include their email addresses in the comments section specifically for this purpose.  If this fails, either because the submitter did not leave an email address, or because he or she needs to fix the scan, please reject the book with commentary on why you rejected it (e.g. the submitter will be re-submitting, there are no page breaks, etc.).


What do I do if I have started proofreading a book but cannot complete it due to personal reasons (lack of time, etc.)?

Please release the book back into the checkout queue so that someone else can proofread it and the submitter’s hard work will not be lost. Please note that your edits will not be retained.


Why can't I checkout and proofread a book with "Hold for" in the title?

The “Hold for [name]” in the title refers to someone who has requested to proofread that book. If a book has been on the checkout list for more than 4 weeks with a HOLD in its title, we will remove the HOLD to allow other people to proof the book.


What does it mean when a book I have proofread is returned to the Checkout Queue with “HOLD FOR [my name]” before the title?

It means that there is some minor issue with the book that can be easily fixed by the proofreader (such as forgetting to add page numbers). There will be an explanation in the comments section.


What happens if a proofread book is rejected?

It means that the book will not be added to the collection. You will find notes in the comments section to explain the reasoning. The most common reasons for rejecting a book are because it’s already in the collection, it is an e-book (which we can’t accept), it is missing page breaks, and/or it contains line breaks (which means that every line becomes its own paragraph).


Can I convert files to TXT file format when proofreading?

Please don’t!  This can result in the loss of all page breaks, in which case the book will be returned by Bookshare administration to the Checkout queue.


Where do I check in the book when I’m finished proofreading it?

Please see the Proofreading page for more information.


Image Descriptions:


Where do I find information regarding image descriptions?

Please see the image description wiki page for more information.


Other Questions:


How can I donate the credits I earn as a scanning or proofreading volunteer?

A volunteer wishing to donate his/her credits to a Bookshare member or prospective member may contact the Volunteer Coordinator on our Contact Us page (make sure to select "Volunteering") with the amount they wish to donate, the name of the person/s they wish to donate to, and their reason for wanting to make the donation.  If you would like to make your credits generally available to those in need, please notify the Volunteer Coordinator. When it comes to our attention that a member or potential member could truly benefit from the financial assistance, we will contact you to notify you of the transfer.


How do I renew my book?

You will get notification that your book is about to expire three days before it will expire. At this point, sign in, go to the Volunteer Home page and select “My Checked Out Books” under “In This Section.” Find the line with the book you wish to renew and click “Renew.”


I checked in a book, when will it appear in the library?

Bookshare must first approve the book. The amount of time varies depending on the volume of books we receive at one time. We will do our utmost to ensure books are added to the collection in a timely fashion.


How does Bookshare handle Adult Content?

Bookshare has developed a program through which we run all text to compare against a list of extremely graphic words to filter for adult content. Bookshare is content-neutral and strives to serve all portions of its community.  This includes members in our community who wish to opt-in to seeing adult content and those who wish to opt-out of seeing this material.


I read a book as a kid that I loved, but I can't remember the author or title.  Can anyone help me figure out how to find the book so I can get it for the collection?

Ask Aunt Book!  She's a children's librarian with over 30 years of experience in children's books. Aunt Book helps identify children's books when folks can no longer remember the name of the author or title. If she doesn't know, she'll post it on her website and ask for help. Her website is: