Friday, August 13, 2010

Article: Project Gutenberg on quest to digitize 1 billion books

It is likely that you know the project (Project Gutenberg), which  began on July 5, 1971.  Since 1971, thousands of volunteers have transcribed and scanned public domain books for it.  The Project provides those books -- over 33,000 at this point -- on the Internet for free, with books being available for use on a wide variety of PC and mobile devices.  In this LA Times article, Michael Hart discusses his new goal - 1 billion ebooks!
He scratched his math, based on various premises, down into an e-mail. His vision for a larger digital reading ecosystem includes all e-books, whether from his own organization or others or from for-profit ventures including Google's.
That is a bold goal doable, as he calculates, if scanned books are also translated into other languages and thus not 1 billion unique titles.

Think of it...1 billion books available online.  Even if some of those are not totally free, that is still more books available to a person through his/her computer than from most local libraries.  That would put a tremendous amount of knowledge at the fingertips of those with Internet connections.  For them, the trick will be getting them to find, access and use the books, because that will not be automatic. For those without Internet connections, the need will be providing the resources they need so that these books are not out of sight and unavailable.

Yes...I know...these will mostly be books in the public domain and thus not recent works. But we should cherish, use and learn from them anyway, because there are put of our heritage and culture. 

No comments: