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June 27, 2008

losing color

Robert Darnton, the great Princeton historian, is no Luddite. He welcomes Google's Book Search, which provides direct access to scanned versions of books from the New York Public Library, Harvard, Michigan, Stanford, and the Bodleian. However, he lists several reasons not to give up on traditional, bricks-and-mortar libraries or to assume that a digital archive can replace them. I will add another reason, which applies (an any rate) to the current version of Google Book Search. Google uses black-and-white photography to reproduce books that were originally printed in black ink. But all real books have color--especially the old ones, whose paper yellows unevenly. In Google's photographs, all the books published before 1900 look bleached and considerably less attractive than they really are.

June 27, 2008 2:25 PM | category: none


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