Librarians at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor threw themselves a party on Friday to celebrate a milestone in their ambitious effort to scan every single book in the collection. They scanned the one millionth book, leaving just 6.5-million to go.
Forget everything you believe about Google’s book digitization project. Once you get past the freakishly high numbers bandied about, the two-dozen-plus distinguished institutions that have signed on, the legal paranoia and the ultra-ultra-secret processes and technologies involved, you’ll find that Book Search (from the fifth most valuable company in America) is simply another high-cost effort that is simultaneously visionary and crude. It doesn’t even have to succeed in order to impact the transformation of scholarship activities.
Just a reminder that scanned copies of paper books are not eBooks, they are merely photographs of books (susceptible to copyright). A real eBook is plain, searchable and reformattable text.
“Paper is no longer the master copy; the digital version is,” says Brewster Kahle, the founder and director of the Internet Archive, a nonprofit digital library. “Paper has been dealt a complete deathblow. When was the last time you saw a telephone book?”
… After rising steadily in the 1980s and ’90s, worldwide paper consumption per capita has plateaued in recent years. In the richest countries, consumption fell 6 percent from 2000 to 2005, from 531 to 502 pounds a person.
Remind me to email Brewster and let him know that loads of telephone books are manufactured and delivered everywhere in this city. They are then recklessly thrown into the dumpster, thanks to our non-existent recycling effort, but they do exist here in all their mulchy glory. Then again, this is New Orleans we’re talking about.