The New York Times has an article about the mass scanning of books, which argues that actions such as Google's Book Search project are an inevitable outgrowth of the internet. The article states:
In several dozen nondescript office buildings around the world, thousands of hourly workers bend over table-top scanners and haul dusty books into high-tech scanning booths. They are assembling the universal library page by page.
The dream is an old one: to have in one place all knowledge, past and present. All books, all documents, all conceptual works, in all languages.
In fact, scanning technology has been around for decades, but digitized books didn't make much sense until recently, when search engines like Google, Yahoo, Ask and MSN came along. When millions of books have been scanned and their texts are made available in a single database, search technology will enable us to grab and read any book ever written.
Within ten years, you may be able to read all the old, out of copyright genealogy books ever written in all languages. What will be the impact on today's genealogy publishers and book stores?
It is an interesting article that will affect genealogists and many others. You can read the article at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/14/magazine/14publishing.html?pagewanted=1.
NOTE: I am not sure how long the article will be available at that address. The New York Times often leaves articles online for a day or two, then moves them to a password-protected archives section.