Project Gutenberg: Timeline Events

by Michael Hart on August 31, 2010
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Project Gutenberg: Timeline Events 2010

The latest Project Gutenberg Grand Total figures have just passed 37,500 titles this past month and will have 40,000 eBooks during our 40th year celebration, 1,000 a year over 40 years doesn’t sound like much, but we are on track right now to do 5,000 this year.

We are currently giving away about 100,000 books a day, just through the one single site: gutenberg.org. About 3 million eBooks per month or 36 million per year.

In 2000 USB flash drives were just getting started with 8M “IBM Memory Sticks” available for about $60 and also 16M and 32M size were available.

Today 1,000 times as much memory, 8G, is available from over the counter stores for $20.

I just bought a somewhat larger “terabyte pocket drive” for $75 over the counter.  Larger is a relative term in this case, it’s still pocket-sized, but just requires a doubly larger pocket and the weight is noticeable and a “wall wart” power supply is required, so I should NOT think the term “pocket-sized would be appropriate but I bought it anyway, sight unseen, due to misunderstanding
or being misled by the advertising.

Still, it’s no larger and not much heavier than a book, and it will hold 2.5 million such books in .zip format.

Think for just a moment about how much a terabyte would cost you back in the year 2000, how much power it took, and how hard it would be to fill it up.

Google wouldn’t even announce its “invention” of eBooks for about 5 more years, Project Gutenberg wouldn’t have 10,000 titles for another 2 3/4 years, so just think of the changes we have in store by 2020, the next decade.

We should all be considering getting petabytes if we do have them already by then, and all of the findable book titles that are public domain should have been put into at least some eReadable formats, if not most or all.

It should be simple to hold each word ever published, a billion books of a million pages each, uncompressed and 2.5 billion such titles, using compressed formats which should be the default by then.

However, the rules will likely have been changed again, and perhaps yet again, to stop the public domain and to insure that copyright is more and permanent not so much for the additional few percent in sales, but mostly for the purpose of preserving and protecting:

“The Digital Divide.”

[A minor edit to the opening paragraph -- Ed.]

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Nate August 31, 2010 at 8:59 pm

“1,000 a month over 40 years doesn’t sound like much”

That would be great! Then you’d have converted 480k titles to digital form.

Mike Cook September 3, 2010 at 3:33 am

480K eBooks would be fantastic but of course Michael meant 1,000 per year.
I’ve updated the post with this change.

BJ January 24, 2011 at 5:41 am

I read the sentence containing the words “preserving and protecting: ‘The Digital Divide’ ” several times. “The Digital Divide” will be an inoperable expression in a few years whether it is preserved and protected or not. It is too late to close the information gate because the cat is out of the bag, and the horse is gone. The burglars have been arrested. 1984 has come and gone. Some governments do withhold information from their citizens, and some leaders do lie to their citizens. They will continue to do that. Nevertheless the International Gutenberg Project will grow faster than crab grass in Bermuda. Ebooks will be distributed from Ulaanbaatar to Ushuaia no matter what an individual government does. No government can copyright the www. They will certainly try to copyright it, but they are throwing a Hail Mary from their one-yard line in a whiteout with one second on the clock; their quarterback’s pitching arm has a double spiral fracture, and he thinks that he is playing baseball; no timeouts remain, and he just dropped the contact lens from his good eye into the snow. It ain’t gonna happen.