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sushant005
sushant005 • Aug 6, 2010

Google says there are 129,864,880 books in world.

According to Google’s advanced algorithms, there are nearly 130 million books, or 129,864,880, to be exact.

It is practically impossible to count every book that has ever been written. But Google had to go ahead with this task in order to successfully catalogue the world’s supply of printed knowledge for Google Books. The company had to estimate the amount of books it needs to scan. That led Google to set out on this task and finally accomplish it.

Google's software engineer, Leonid Taycher, outlined in the post the complexities involved in counting books. The company had to first define what a book is and then discounted everything that did not follow the definition. Google defines a book as a ‘tome,’ an idealised bound volume. A tome can have millions of copies (e.g. a particular edition of Angels and Demons by Dan Brown) or can exist in just one or two copies (such as an obscure master’s thesis languishing in a university library)."

Google's definition is not perfect and Google admits it. But, according to Google, it is workable and similar to what International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN) are supposed to represent. Google reveals that one billion raw records were compiled by the company from the Library of Congress, WorldCat and others to find as many books as possible.

Google engineers used countless algorithms to determine and discard duplicates. The effort required more than 150 pieces of meta-data related to the world’s books to evaluate whether each book record was unique or a duplicate of another. Analysing this data resulted in 210 million unique books. Then came the task of subtracting the millions of micro-forms, audio recordings, maps, t-shirts and videos with IBSNs. This led to a much more reasonable number of 146 million. Finally, the 16 million government document volumes from this estimate were located and removed. This gave them the 129.8 million count, which Google announced today. The number of books are not a stagnant number. Even as this post is being typed, new books are being published, so the company has to constantly recalculate the book count.

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