Patt Morrison For March 14, 2012

Encyclopaedia Britannica stops the presses after 244 years

Encyclopedic Extinction

Mae Ryan

Encyclopaedia Britannica published its last print edition after 244 years.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, the maker of the venerable paper-bound comprehensive reference volume has announced that they will no longer publish their print version.

The Chicago-based company’s final print edition was published in 2010, priced at $1,395 - and only 8000 sets were sold, down from a peak of 120,000 sold in 1990. A 32-volume set of Encyclopaedia Britannica weighs a hefty 129 pounds and has become a bit of an anachronism in the world of Google and the user-edited online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

The availability of the information on the Internet may bring a wealth of information to your desktop but the discontinuation of the ultimate analog encyclopedia is an alarming development for bibliophiles, who may miss the romance and cachet of paper reference volumes. Encyclopaedia Britannica isn’t going anywhere, however, roughly 84 percent of the company’s revenue is generated by the sales of curriculum products in math, science and other subjects, and there is a virtual version that allows you to put an entire set of Encylopaedia Britannica in your pocket. You guessed it – there is an app for that – available in both Apple and Android’s app stores.

WEIGH IN:

Will you miss paper encyclopedias? Can the Internet replace the Encyclopaedia Britannica?

Guest:

A.J. Jacobs, senior editor, Esquire Magazine; author of “The Know It All,” a book about his attempt to read all thirty-two volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica


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