Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]
Google’s audacious project to scan the world’s books is one of the biggest media endeavors ever undertaken. Only a company such as Google whose fear of daunting tasks is muted by sheer resources and intensity would even attempt such a thing.
This is the company that thought it a good plan to strap cameras on cars and drive every road in the world, after all. They were right.
Audacity, or enthusiastic blindness aside, Google has taken a break from scanning every scrap of bound paper that they could find to come up with some sort of firm number for the current number of books in the world. Let’s break it down.
After sorting for duplicates, meaning that Google does not want to count the same book in two different places twice, there are a stunning 210 million entries to be counted from library and other databases around the world. You have to marvel slightly at that number, even before we cut it some more.
210 million is a big number, but it is not exactly correct. Google then sorts out microfilm, videos, maps, and anything else with an ISBN that has come through its listing process. After all of that final threshing, the number of books, as least as well as Google can count them, is 129,864,880.
If Google is going to digitize all of those, their considerable start notwithstanding, they are going to need some interns, right? Who wants to volunteer?
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