Book Heaven

Where the world of books and life intersect

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Location: South Amboy, New Jersey

I am deeply involved in trying to solve the discrepancy between being interested in zen and trying to acquire all the things I've been accumulating

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

R.I.P. Books

I was literally close to tears a couple of years back when I read a prediction that books (and bookstores) as we know them would be all but extinct within twenty years. At that time, the culprit was seen to be e-books. Ironically, after a short while I came to view the possible extiction of books as a good thing. Of course, if there were no books, I wouldn't have to worry about my addiction to them. I would be involuntarily cured.

Of course e-books have seemingly gone next to nowhere and it is doubtful that they will play much of a major role in vanquishing books. Just my luck. Now, however, while the end of books may not be in sight, the need to possess them certainly might. The front page story in the December 14th New York Times, "Google to Add Top Research Libraries to Database" by John Markoff and Edward Wyatt told of a grand project that Google has to transfer as many as fifteen million (15,000,000) volumes into readily searchable digital files that could be freely searched over the internet. Although only books whose copyrights had lapsed would be available in their entirety, users would have limited access to copyrighted works and presumably could either purchase entire works in print or electronic form. Once everything is readily available, why would anyone ever need to possess a book?

The article states that Google hopes to eventually double the starting scanning rate of 50,000 pages a day. The project is estimated to take a decade or so but I assume that work done so far will be accessible as the project proceeds. Earthshaking news here. I can just imagine a day where every pulp story ever published is available. Now if only someone can manage to stretch time. Evelyn Wood, where are you -- I'm ready to listen!!!

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