Over the past few weeks technophiles have been giving a great deal of attention to Google’s plan to digitize gazillions of books. However things turn out, the impacts of these decisions are going to reverberate across the planet, and warrant careful scrutiny. Whether in Zimbabwe or Bali, California or the Yukon, the whole world could benefit from Google’s efforts. By providing access to millions of digitized books to anyone with an Internet connection, Google seems poised to usher in a dead tree-free future while simultaneously undercutting several powerful industries (e.g., authors, publishers, libraries). With an army of scanners and some legal posturing, they have the power to remove artificial barriers that currently limit access to information. Further, they could easily provoke a second, decentralized renaissance. But, as is so often the case, things aren’t that simple.