Getting Notes from Print Books Into Obsidian

Surely this has been discussed before, but if so I wasn’t finding the right search terms because I don’t see any relevant threads.

If you take notes/underline in print books, what tools or workflows have you discovered to make it easier to get these into Obsidian? Obviously, typing them in by hand is an option, but this can be unwieldy – especially if your book keeps falling shut!

Lots of OCR options out there; what’s tried-and-tested?

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My studies take me to Internet archive a lot. This is not relevant for your situation BUT the way I get notes into Obsidian from various books even Kindle etc. is by using the program called ‘ShareX’ which has ocr capabilities that work great.

Hard copy books I just use my phone to take a picture and use that.
From there I use the ShareX program to make into a workable file from original jpg png etc.

Hope this help you.

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On Apple devices you can select text directly from the camera using the Live Text feature (it also works in photos). I believe Android has something similar.

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In google lens.

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I use Readwise to sync my ebook notes. They have a feature for scanning and OCR, that syncs with their service too. But unfortunately, I’ve never tested it. (Part of my reason to reply here is simply to remind myself to test it out.)

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I used the app Highlighted (iOS only). Used it for several books and found that it works great. It also has Markdown export. And it is totally free!

But to be honest I stopped using it since I’ve come to extract my notes/highlights manually because I prefer the slower approach. To keep the book from falling shut I placed my phone, another book or some other weight on it.

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I’ve used the Readwise OCR feature and found it works very nicely. Recommended.

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I scan the section of my book with Scanner Pro on my iPhone. It has ocr and then I share it to Obsidian.

Either Readwise (as already mentioned) or I take a picture import it in a note in OneNote and use there the OCR right clicking on the picture and paste the text in an Obsidian note

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I just tested out Google lens and it worked quite well

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I’ve created a new plugin which is a possibility some in this thread might like. It lets you instantly add quotes from a physical book or Kindle book without requiring any sort of slow syncing system (I tried Readwise but wasn’t a fan of the workflow) or having to re-type the quote manually.

It requires a bit of setup in that you need an ebook copy of the physical book you’re reading. I don’t personally mind this as I like collecting ebooks, and I source most things from my library for free with Overdrive/Libby.

Here’s a quick demo: I start typing the first few words of any quote from my print book, and it instantly finds it. I use the arrow keys to increase/decrease the size of the quote, and then hit Enter to insert it into my note:

It’s currently pending acceptance into the Community Plugins, but if you want to try it out you can install it with BRAT.

I’ve been using it for the past month and it’s made a huge difference for me when reading. You can even use it on your mobile Obsidian as well.

https://github.com/alangrainger/obsidian-air-quotes

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Wow; this is cool. Certainly looks useful for the ebooks I’m reading, even if it doesn’t do much for print. And it never even occurred to me to check my library for ebook versions of things I already own in print. That alone is a great tip!

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I’m pretty sure we’re already both on the same page (heh), but just to be clear this works great for print books with the caveat that you need to get an ebook copy also.

Here’s a quick video of how it works with print:

Using this plugin does take a bit of setup in that you need to get an ebook, so it’s absolutely not for everyone - and to be honest it’s probably only useful for a tiny minority of people :stuck_out_tongue: For my workflow though it’s just what I was looking for.

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