Gutenberg Galaxy

From Academic Kids

The Gutenberg Galaxy, named for Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of printing, is the universe of all printed books ever published. The term was first used by Marshall McLuhan in his book The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man first published in 1962.

As an estimate of the size of the Gutenberg Galaxy, as of 2002/2003, the British Library claimed that it held over 150 million items, and the Library of Congress claimed that it held approximately 119 million items. It is not easy to estimate how many of these "items" are books, and belong in the Gutenberg Galaxy. The Library of Congress, for example, has 520 miles of book shelves. If we estimate the average book size to be 1 inch wide, this gives a count of 30,000,000 books or rougly 28% of its "item" count.

Given an estimated average book size of 6 Mbytes for a purely textual book containing 1 million words, for the Library of Congress this represents roughly 180,000,000,000,000 bytes (18012 bytes = 180,000 GB = 180 TB) see SI prefix) of text. If we assume the same percentage of book to item in the British Library (28%), we get 245,000,000,000,000 bytes or 245 TB for the books in its holdings. Ignoring duplicate holdings (probably high, in the order of 25-50%) the combined size of the Gutenberg Galaxy by this method would be 425 TB.

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