Just How Many Books Are There? Google’s Massive Project to Count Them ALL
Books to the ceiling, books to the sky, / My piles of books are a mile high. / How I love them! / How I need them! / I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them. ~Arnold Lobel
Have you ever wondered just how many books are actually out there? Well, thanks to Google’s researchers, now we know: 128,854,790. (A number, of course, which will continually change.)
Google’s Herculean effort is aimed at cataloging and indexing all existing books. The goal is to ultimately have every piece of literature in the world digitized and searchable.
The project had some prickly problems with which to contend from the beginning, starting with what actually counts as a book. You can read more about how they arrived at what “counts” here.
Despite the altruism on many levels of Google’s meta-project, there are some concerns about having a private company being in charge of all the world’s data. But their work will accomplish what governments and/or non-profit entities have not been able to achieve: the free dissemination of data to the masses, one of the biggest changes of access to knowledge since the printing press.