Saturday, January 16, 2010

All the Conveniences of the Modern World

I am rather fond of Google Books, not only for their out-of-copyright volumes which one can dig up on a whim and read cover to cover, but for their search feature which helps one find a phrase or a topic in a virtual shelfull of books, old and new. While the currently copyrighted ones cannot be read there online, Google Books offers a further service, a book search which can pinpoint a copy of one tome or another in a library. They even kindly calculate the distance between your location and that of a likely library, and offer to map it. This is very helpful and very considerate, but just how thoroughly informed it is, I hesitate to guess. The book I suddenly decided I must get my hands on showed up in a single library--in a town called Munich. Not even Munich, North Dakota. The next column over, the one where they tell you the distance read: 5700 Miles. I am reading some other books this weekend.

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