Grafton on Google

In The New Yorker, Anthony Grafton offers a closer look at Google’s book project. A recent deal with On Demand Books will allow the printing of two million out-of-copyright digital texts on the Espresso Book Machine; and Grafton suggests this will lead Google toward becoming the “largest bookstore the world has ever known.” According to On Demand Books, the Espresso Book Machine offers “library quality paperbacks…which have full color covers” and are “indistinguishable from other books sold in bookstores” in under five minutes.

The article touches on many of the issues facing the project, including the legal issues surrounding copyright protection, the ethical issues of using the Internet as a means of controlling information, and the previously mentioned quality problems with Google’s categorization process.

Grafton wrote The Footnote, which Mark Bernstein describes as “indispensable for understanding the backstory of hypertext.”