I pity whoever had to sit down and do all the work, but the Google Books project has calculated there’s something in the range of 129,864,880 books. They must be fairly certain if they felt comfortable nailing it down (as opposed to just rounding and saying 129,000,000+, since I for one am not quibbling over a few thousand). It’s sort of an awe-inspiring number!
Personally, this means I really need to get cracking if I want to read as many as possible. Sadly, unless I find the fountain of youth, it’s unlikely I’ll get through them all. At a book a day, it would take me 355,794.19 years. That’s also assuming we’re skipping leap years.
This does illustrate one of the benefits of ebooks (and by extension, the Google Books project). Imagine the space you’d need to house all those books. I spent my weekend trying to de-clutter my house, and I can assure you even after donating enough furniture to furnish ANOTHER several room house, we still don’t have space for all our books, and our combined collection is at most 200ish. If you want to carry every book ever printed with you, it’s ebooks or bust! Just invest in a stack of hard drives, and leave enough shelf space for the Harry Potter series, since J.K. Rowling apparently believes ebooks make unicorns cry.
For some reason, I am just totally fascinated by the idea of all books, all written knowledge, being quantified so clearly. To put it in some perspective, Barnes & Noble and Amazon both have over 1 million titles in their ebook stores, and the best they could claim is that they carry .77% of all the books in the world! Only in this context does 1 million plus suddenly sound puny.
There is a great deal of controversy over Google Books, and it’s highly unlikely Google will have a significant percentage of those 129,864,880 titles anytime soon. But it’s a lofty goal, and hopefully, Google will continue to share some fun side facts along the way! I’m curious because my mental math skills were exhausted by calculating the years needed to read all those books: How many megabytes would you need to hold all those books if they were digitized? Remember, it’s 129,884,772 (since Harry Potter is a holdout). Comment below with your best guess, while I get cracking on some reading…