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News from the open access movement

Thursday, January 03, 2008

30,000 books on a keychain, 7.5 million books on your desk

Michael S. Hart, The Top Inventions of 2008, Global Politician, January 3, 2008.  Hart is the founder of Project Gutenberg.  Excerpt:

What will be the top inventions in 2008?

1. ...The advent of USB 3.0 will combine with inexpensive terabyte drives....

3. Virtual Libraries (Taken One At A Time)

By the end of 2008 the Project Gutenberg Library will be as large -- or larger--than the average United States Public Library.

30,000+ volumes originating from Project Gutenberg....

Claims of over a million eBooks from some sources notwithstanding -- Project Gutenberg's library stands alone in that the volumes should each have been proofread by at least two human beings, along with a wide variety of software proofreading programs, and in the fact the eBooks take only one file per volume and are very small files.

As time goes one, more and more virtual libraries of this size will become available in these small files that allow an entire library, 30,000 books of a million characters each, to be worn on keychains, necklaces, bracelets, etc.

These small text files also work very will with compression program varieties such as .zip files, that allow 5 books to be stored in an alternate .zip file in the space 2 books took previously.

5 books in 2 megabytes....

30,000 books in 12 gigabytes.

That's all the words in the books of an average US Public Library.

2008 will see 12 gigabyte USB flash drives for under $100.

$100 to carry every word in 30,000 books. . . .

In less space and weight than your average wristwatch....

Before Gutenberg the average person owned zero books.

Before Project Gutenberg the average person owned zero libraries.

4. Virtual Libraries (Taken As A Whole)

...[B]y the end of 2008, there are going to be 7 million eBooks in the world . . . and someone somewhere is going to download all of them....

Still presuming one million character per volume:...

7.5 million volumes could be stored in .zip format in 2.6 terabytes.

The average computer today sells for under $500.

It comes with about 120 gigabytes of hard drive.

Adding in five drives at half a terabyte each totals under $500.

There is your potential world class library for under $1,000!

Yes, there are problems.

First is the unwillingness of people such as Google to make it easy to download their books in .txt format.

I understand this is changing, but changing a million books takes a bit of time, and I worry that Google is more concerned with SAYING THEY HAVE MILLIONS OF BOOKS than actually making them available as actual text files the likes of which you are reading right now.

This is not just a concern with Google, I have the same concern via the work of The Million Book Project, The Open Content Alliance and all of the rest who speak in terms of millions of online books from the perspective of "instant gratification." ...