Google Books History

In the beginning, there was Google Books.

Well, not exactly. But one can certainly argue that the project is as old as Google itself. In 1996, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were graduate computer science students working on a research project supported by the Stanford Digital Library Technologies Project. Their goal was to make digital libraries work, and their big idea was as follows: in a future world in which vast collections of books are digitized, people would use a “web crawler” to index the books’ content and analyze the connections between them, determining any given book’s relevance and usefulness by tracking the number and quality of citations from other books.

The crawler they wound up building was called BackRub, and it was this modern twist on traditional citation analysis that inspired Google’s PageRank algorithms – the core search technology that makes Google, well, Google.

Even then, Larry and Sergey envisioned people everywhere being able to search through all of the world’s books to find the ones they’re looking for. What they couldn’t have imagined was that one day they would launch a project to help make it happen.

Fast forward to today:

After more than a decade of evolution, innovation and strong partnerships, Google Books has helped to make more than 40 million books discoverable, in more than 400 languages.

And we're not done -- not until all of the books in the world can be found by everyone, everywhere, at any time they need them.

It's the mission that Larry and Sergey set out with as they built Google, and one that Google Books would like to continue into the future -- to make the world's information as universally accessible and useful as possible, all the while respecting publishers, copyright and the role of libraries across the globe.

If you're a publisher interested in working with us to sell your books online, visit Librarian Help.

If you're a library interested in working with us to digitize your collection, visit our Partner Program.