How much does digitization cost?

Digitization costs for a particular project will vary greatly, depending on many factors such as the volume of content to be digitized as well as the nature of the content and the intended use (e.g., a requirement to apply optical character recognition to text).  Content format and fragility may affect handling requirements as well as the type of digitization equipment that can be applied, resulting in significant differences in terms of throughput from one project to the next.

Here are some recent examples of approximate project cost estimates:

  • 150 newsletters (mixture of staple-bound, newsprint, and flat formats): $3,500 for 140 hours for scanning and post-processing work completed over roughly six weeks
  • 2,500 posters: $10,000 for eight weeks of scanning and post-processing work
  • 1,800 18th and 19th century novels: $70,000 for 50 weeks of scanning and post-processing work

Price information

The following pricing sheets are intended as estimation tools when discussing small digitization costs with SUL patrons. (Digitzation of content large enough to be considered a project requires detailed content analysis before an estimated cost can be generated.)  These fees represent the digitization lab-specific fees. Note that additional library-specific fees may also apply.

No digitization work will commence until the patron has approved the estimated fees, which will be calculated by the labs once they have more thoroughly evaluated the digitization request. This allows the labs to adjust base costs to accomodate for the nature or condition of the materials.  

Stanford Media Preservation Lab digitization pricing sheet
Digital Production Group digitization pricing sheet

Why charge for digitization services?

Digitization services rely on a combination of highly skilled staff with state-of-the-art digitization equipment and state-of-the-art best practices.  In order to continue to extend our ability to digitize additional materials beyond the scope of one-time funding for digitization, SUL relies on fees to recover some of the cost components of the underlying staff and technology needed to support image digitization, media reformatting and capture of born-digital materials.

SUL's chargeback model for digitization services is designed to cover incremental costs associated with a specific project (e.g., hiring and training hourly staff to process project-specific content, or for vendor-fees related to costs for formats not supported by SUL digitization labs) as well as some of the base costs for those services.

Service requests which are accompanied by funding to cover digitization fees are typically prioritized higher as this funding allows us to extend our services to support those digitization requests that do not have funding.