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Google Tallies 129,864,880 Titles

Based on a new algorithm, Google says there are some 129,864,880 books in the world. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

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Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On the Inside Google Books blog, software engineer Leonid Taycher says the company has developed an algorithm to count all the books in the world.

He gives us a fascinating account of how Google software engineers took metadata from catalogs, library databases, and companies; purged duplicates; removed non-books; and tried to exclude serials.

What's the point?

According to Taycher, "When you are part of a company that is trying to digitize all the books in the world, the first question you often get is: 'Just how many books are out there?'"

The inevitable second question: What gives you the right to scan and make-searchable millions of books?

Unfortunately for Google, no algorithm — no mater how sophisticated — can provide an easy answer to that one. The legal battle over the Google Book Search project continues.