The invention of the printing press in 1450 really changed the publishing industry for the better. This single invention allowed people to print numerous books that otherwise would have taken years to distribute to others. While many of the books that have been published since 1450 have been painstakingly catalogued and tracked, there are several that have gotten lost in the shuffle.
A Chicago based book publishing company has spent the past 30 years trying to catalogue all the books that were ever published. While many of the books are relatively easy to discover, some seem to have disappeared within a blink of an eye.
"We really wanted to create a catalogue of every book that was published since the printing press was invented", explained marketing director for Words on Pages, Jennie Young. "We have been successful in finding millions of books in that time frame, but there were some that seem to have disappeared into thin air."
One of the illusive books is a biography of a local town leader that dates back to the early 1600s. Words on Pages has been searching for this book for the past 20 years, and had no successful leads – until now.
"On a hunch I decided to run the one phrase we knew was in the book through an e-discovery software program", said research intern, Ryan Fillmore. "It searched for what seemed like hours, and came back with a hit to some self-scanned documents based out of Florida."
An e-discovery software program
takes imputed words and phrases, and uses them to search a database of existing files, books, and user uploaded information. If a hit is discovered, it will come back with the source and where to find it.
"The search results indicated that the book may have been a user uploaded document based out of Florida", explained Fillmore. "I instantly got on the phone with the person who uploaded it, and boy let me tell you my heart was racing a mile a minute."
Sally Summers, based out of Orlando, Florida, had recently uploaded what she thought were her dad's old law books into the database. One of those books turned out to be the illustrious missing book that Words on Pages has been looking for.
"I really just thought people would like to see all my dad's old law information", said Summers. "I didn't realize I had this long lost book. It really feels amazing."
Summers plans on flying up to Chicago to show Words on Pages the actual physical copy of the book. Words on Pages plans to verify if the book is an original first edition copy. If it is a first edition copy, the book could stand to be worth close to $45,000.