Google Books is likely the world’s largest (digital) library with more than 30 million titles, and the tech giant’s eventual goal is to digitize every publication. And while countless people use it as a resource for research, others have tapped as an unlikely source of art.
Google Books is generated humans scanning book pages from cover to cover day in and day out. Sometimes, human error occurs during the scanning process, and that’s where the art comes into play.
In particular, one Tumblr blog stands out as the top resource for Google-Books-error-art: “The Art of Google Books,” from University of Florida student Krissy Wilson, who kept coming across adversaria, stains, and digital mistakes during her research. Her blog curates two types of errors: those made on the analog side, like food stains; and those made in the process of digitization, like a hand covering a page.
Among the more interesting works are the mis-scanned images like the one above. It was the image that inspired Wilson’s Tumblr. “It’s a portrait photographed through the tissue that protects it, and the result is ghostly and ethereal, Wilson explained to PBS.
Together, the blog’s collection of images is an exercise in nostalgia, sending you back to those days when you could comb through a library book and find odd annotations or unique additions. To get a sense of what the blog offers, check out some of Wilson’s best finds below.