2007-01-30

The Google Library

Google's Moon Shot: The quest for the universal library (Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, Issue of 2007-02-05)

The most comprehensive coverage, as far as I am aware, of Google's ongoing process to scan practically all books on earth into a searchable web database:

Every weekday, a truck pulls up to the Cecil H. Green Library, on the campus of Stanford University, and collects at least a thousand books, which are taken to an undisclosed location and scanned, page by page, into an enormous database ... At the University of Michigan, Google’s original partner in Google Book Search, tens of thousands of books are processed each week on the company’s custom-made scanning equipment.

In addition to forming partnerships with libraries, the company has signed contracts with nearly every major American publisher. When one of these publishers’ books is called up in response to search queries, Google displays a portion of the total work and shows links to the publisher’s Web site and online shops like Amazon, where users can buy the book.

Google will not discuss its proprietary scanning technology, but, rather than investing in page-turning equipment, the company employs people to operate the machines ... Google will not reveal how much it is spending on the books project. In 2005, Microsoft announced that it would spend two and a half million dollars to scan a hundred thousand out-of-copyright books in the collection of the British Library. At this rate, scanning thirty-two million books—the number in WorldCat’s database—would cost Google eight hundred million dollars.

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Google Book Search (beta) || Blog: Inside Google Book Search

Wikipedia: Google Book Search || Degree Tutor: Are Librarians Totally Obsolete?