Friday, August 06, 2010


When you are part of a company that is trying to digitize all the books in the world, the first question you often get is: “Just how many books are out there?”

Well, it all depends ........

Counting only things that are printed and bound, we arrive at about 146 million. This is our best answer today. It will change as we get more data and become more adept at interpreting what we already have.

Our handling of serials is still imperfect. Serials cataloging practices vary widely across institutions. The volume descriptions are free-form and are often entered as an afterthought. For example, “volume 325, number 6”, “no. 325 sec. 6”, and “V325NO6” all describe the same bound volume ......

Prodnose: That old chestnut. There is nothing I like better than a good "same bound volume" ploy.

After we exclude serials, we can finally count all the books in the world. There are 129,864,880 of them. At least until Sunday.
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