Riding the Internet Bookmobile

Salon rides along with Brewster Kahle in the Internet Bookmobile, a van that’s equipped with a high-speed wireless Internet connection, a powerful printer, and a binding machine. They’re visiting schools, museums, and libraries, printing out hard copies of public-domain books for free.

“In a print-on-demand world, where the cost of creating a book runs about $1 and the capital costs run under $10K, libraries don’t lend books, they give them away.”

Kahle gets a little overexcited by his mission, but it’s forgivable. (“We can’t build a library to hold a million books — the building would be just too big!” he exclaims, ignoring the existence of probably hundreds of million-volume libraries around the country.) Along the way, he visits Michael Hart (the founder of Project Gutenberg) and Raj Reddy, whose Universal Library aims to put a million books online.

The bookmobile is supposed to be arriving in DC today, parking in front of the Supreme Court in time for Eldred v. Ashcroft.

Riding the Internet Bookmobile