Project Gutenberg 40th anniversary

40 years ago Michael Hart started Project Gutenberg. It is the right time to remind that books digitization did not begin in the past several years but much earlier. Hart has informed on his site that total number of titles in Project Gutenberg passed 37500 last August and before 40th anniversary it should pass 40000. Average of 1000 books a year over 40 years does not sound impressive but as the project author assures it should get to 5000 this year. Nowadays project site gives away about 100000 eBooks per day which means 3 million a month or 36 million a year.

Michael Hart notices the progress made in USB flash drives since 2000, when they had 1000 less capacity and were 3 times more expensive. Portable “pocket drives” can hold up to 2,5 million books in .zip format even though according to their size we should not think of them as “pocket-sized” and they are not heavier than a book.

If we think for a moment of year 2000 it turns out that Google wouldn’t announce inventing eBooks for 5 more years and Project Gutenberg would still need 2 3/4 more years to pass 10000 titles. There are many changes to do by 2020, for the next decade. The author suggests that till then petabytes of data would be got and all findable public domain books would be put into at least some electronic formats.

At the end, the author worries that it is likely the rules would change to stop public domain and protect copyright making “The Digital Divide” problem deeper.

The complete post by Michael Hart is available here.

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