It was a real book-onionskin pages bound in what might have been actual leather. Miller had seen pictures of them before; the idea of that much weight for a single megabyte of data struck him as decadent.
-Leviathan Wakes, @14.03%, James S. A. Corey

A few days ago, Kerry and I went into a the Winchester Book Gallery where I eyeballed the Kobo readers they had on display, then later we were in a Books-A-Million, which sells Nook readers(without any Barnes and Noble branding to be seen, I might remark). In the larger store, I remarked to Kerry that every bit of printed information in this store could fit onto one desktop computer’s hard drive.

I am a fan of ebooks now. I actually feel a little irked when I get a long read that is in paper anymore. If I had a choice between a free printed book and a $5 ebook, I’d get out a small portrait of Lincoln real quick (except I’m using eLincolns now). I’m also a fan of backing up wild speculations that I make.

I went to Project Gutenberg and found The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. In EPUB (the most popular format for ereaders) the file size is 2.3 megabytes. Barnes and Noble’s For Author’s page says that their stores hold over 100,000 unique book titles per store (as of 11/30/2013). Doing some quick math, presuming all of the text in all of those books is equal in length to all of Shakespeare’s work combined gives us 230 gigabytes of data. Of the random sampling of major desktop computer manufacturers, all of the ones I found sold computers that have at least double that.

But, that’s text. Books that have heavy graphics, like cookbooks, would up that exponentially.

Let’s, just for fun compare two numbers, a hypothetical and a estimate. Let’s say that all of the data that you can find in Barnes and Noble’s entire printed catalog is one thousand times that. That’d be 230 terabytes of data.

About.com, citing the Radicati Group’s estimate say that there are about 294 billion mail messages sent every day. If they’re only a single kilobyte per mail message, that means that the amount of data moving through the Internet only being email is 294,000 terabytes of data.

I’d also like to wrap up this post by saying that I’m not a Internet analyst and I’m making some guesses and generalities, so please don’t cite me for your IT doctorate.