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From 2002-2007, Jean-Noel Jeanneney was the president of the Bibliotheque nationale de France. During just three weeks in his tenure there, he wrote this 90-page “little book” to offer up a case against what we now know as Google Books, from a European, non-Anglophone perspective. As this is the kind of book one might find themselves reading in a single sitting, my review will be brief. It’s worth the few hours it takes to read.

As I read this book this afternoon, I kept feeling a lack of emphasis on Jeanneney’s part in regard to the solution to the problem presented by Google Library/Google Book Search. I expected the author to expound for the full 90 pages on a call to action against Google Books and a strong case in favor of  non-Anglophone countries banding together to digitize works in every other language on a large-scale. Instead, I felt like a read an overly lengthy blog-style rant (albeit by a well-educated and important figure in information science) complaining about Google’s status as a for-profit company and America’s status as a capitalist country. We knew this already…

Maybe something was lost in translation, but when I originally reserved this book, I’ll admit I did so based on its title. “Google and the Myth of Universal Knowledge” made me jump to the conclusion that this book would be the result of a study of the effect of learning to Google something at a young age. Shame on me for not reading the book description in more detail before reserving a copy at my library.

So, I lied. My informal little review was longer than I’d originally intended. Long story short, this book was worth the read, despite my inattentiveness at the time of placing my Michigan e-Library hold on the item. Avoid this title if you’re really capitalist. 🙂