Friday, October 24, 2003

Wired News: The Great Library of Amazonia

Wired News: The Great Library of Amazonia "An ingenious attempt to illuminate the dark region of books is under way at Amazon.com. Over the past spring and summer, the company created an unrivaled digital archive of more than 120,000 books. The goal is to quickly add most of Amazon's multimillion-title catalog. The entire collection, which went live Oct. 23, is searchable, and every page is viewable.
To build the archive, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has had to unravel a tangle of technological and copyright problems. His solution promises to remake the publishing business and give Amazon a powerful new weapon in its battle against online competitors such as Yahoo, Google, and eBay. But the most interesting thing about the archive is the way it resolves the paradox of the book, respecting its physical form while transcending its limits.
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Amazon's Alexandrian scheme hinges on the insight that physical books can be turned into electronic databases and then – in the retail process – turned back into physical books. This is one of the boldest maneuvers yet in an intense commercial competition, but for all its cunning, this is a civilized, even civilizing war, one that builds libraries rather than burns them."
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