Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Electronic libraries

Google has announced it is scanning large collections of books from academic libraries such as those at Stanford and Harvard. Amazon's search engine A9.com already allows users to search inside many books. Hopefully, with both Amazon and Google negotiating with publishers we will soon have widespread electronic distribution of books. Once search engines have scanned these books, a direct sales channel is opened between publishers and buyers - find the search result in a book, buy it as a PDF file with a single click. Digital rights management will be an issue for popular books, but perhaps not for less commercial academic or technical books. For some obscure volumes, publishers might welcome the extra income from sales of electronic versions, and not be so worried about piracy. Also, the copyrights to many useful books have expired so that they are in the public domain.

Let's see: roughly speaking, 1 letter = 1 byte, 10^3 words per page, 10^6 bytes per book. So 1 GB = 1000 books and a 100GB hard drive (soon to be seen on ipods) will store 10^5 books. Since a decent university library holds about 10^6 books, I can see a day very soon when we can carry our own extensive digital libraries around with us! The main bottleneck is economic, not technical.

1 comment:

yate007 said...

information's good option are electronic libraries.

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