Publishing Perspectives writes about a Japanese trend that's starting to get traction in the U.S.: Ship your print books to a service bureau, where they convert them into searchable PDFs. zLibro, a Japanese company that operates the BOOKSCAN service in Japan, has opened a U.S. operation in San Jose, CA called 1DollarScan.com. As the name implies, the company scans and converts print books for $1 and up, with additional services available (including OCR to make the book searchable) at higher cost. The company also scans business documents, business cards, photos and greeting cards. However, books aren't returned to the original owner under any circumstances, and other documents are returned only if specifically requested and at a fairly high cost. (Books are cut apart before being scanned, and are recycled after scanning.)
1DollarScan claims that it "honors Copyright", but its also says that it
relies on "Fair Use" rules, which means that it scans everything, except
where a specific agreement is in place with a publisher or author not to
scan their works. Most of 1DollarScan's terms and conditions relating to
copyright are designed to protect the company if it gets sued, not
publishers or authors. Once the books are scanned, the buyer could
easily post them to a file-sharing site. It doesn't appear that 1DollarScan
applies any DRM to the PDFs it creates.
I wouldn't be surprised if publishers and/or authors file suit against
1DollarScan for facilitating piracy, but it doesn't appear that they're
doing anything that an individual couldn't do with a sheet-fed scanner.