Session 12 Extra: Google Books


“Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” —John 21:25

 What an astounding statement John writes to close his Gospel, especially as we read them some 2,000 years later in this information-dense age!

So, how many books might there actually be? Google—who else?—took up this question a few years ago when they began their Google Books project.

On Thursday, August 5, 2010, Google estimated that there were 129,864,880 books in the entire world. And that was just the currently available books, the ones that could be digitized in its project.

You can read more here in this detailed blog post about how Google came up with that number. It meant first defining what a “book” is, then collecting metadata from 150-plus providers (libraries, WorldCat, national union catalogs, etc.), then drilling that information down to eliminate duplicates, and then, of course, eliminating the random bits like microforms, audio recordings, videos, and even a turkey probe (added to a library catalog as an April Fools joke).

But that’s not the end of the story. How many books get published each year? That 129 million number has surely grown since 2010!

According to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), that number is about 2.2 million books. How many more books will be published before Christ returns? Only he knows.

Share this story with your students. How did they respond? 

Click here for more resources for A Study of John 11–21.


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