An article in The Message states that Google is reducing its efforts at digitizing old books. That certainly is a loss for genealogists, historians, and many others. In what appears to be an unrelated move, the Internet Archive is INCREASING its efforts at digitizing old books, adding 1,000 books to the online collection EACH DAY. Perhaps there is hope for genealogists after all.
In 2004, Google Books signaled the company’s intention to scan every known book, partnering with libraries and developing its own book scanner capable of digitizing 1,000 pages per hour. Since then, the company has digitized millions of old books, creating a valuable archive. Google Books is still online, but has curtailed its scanning efforts in recent years, likely discouraged by a decade of legal wrangling still in appeal. The Google Books Blog stopped updating in 2012 and the Twitter account has been dormant since February 2013.
In contrast, the Internet Archive, a non-profit organization, has created one of the world’s largest open collections of digitized books, over 6 million public domain books, and an open library catalog. The digitized books available from the Internet Archive also are available in many more formats than those from any other online service, including PDF, Kindle, EPUB, and more. Of course, you can also read any book simply by displaying it on your screen in a web browser.
The Internet Archive has also digitized 1.9 million videos, home movies, and 4,000 public-domain feature films. It has also added 2.3 million audio recordings, including over 74,000 radio broadcasts, 13,000 78rpm records, and 1.7 million Creative Commons-licensed audio recordings, more than 137,000 concert recordings, nearly 10,000 from the Grateful Dead alone. Other items added to the FREE online archives include more than 10,000 audiobooks from LibriVox, 668,000 news broadcasts with full-text search, and the largest collection of historical software in the world.
The Internet Archive also offers scanning services. The non-profit offers FREE and open access to scan complete print collections in 33 scanning centers, with 1,500 books scanned daily. Best of all, the scanning of books is performed in a non-destructive manner. That means there is no need to cut the bindings off the books before scanning. The Internet Archive either operates or partners with 33 scanning centers on 5 continents.
You can read more about the demise of Google Books and the rise of the Internet Archive at http://goo.gl/DFYq7W. The Internet Archive may be found at http://archive.org. Information about the Internet Archive book digitization efforts may be found at http://archive.org/scanning.
My thanks to newsletter reader Doris Wheeler for telling me about the business shift in Google Books.