Encyclopaedia Britannica ditches print for pure digital

We have heard it almost since the beginning of the rise of the Internet: "Print is dead". That saying was proven this week in its biggest example yet: the Encyclopaedia Britannica announced that it would no longer offer the massive print volumes of its encyclopedia, ending a legacy that began 244 years ago. The last printed version will be the 2010 edition.

In a statement, Encyclopaedia Britannica president Jorge Cauz said that some might see this announcement as an "unwelcomed goodbye". However, he felt that this move will also allow the company to move further into offering encyclopedias via online editions. He states:

By concentrating our efforts on our digital properties, we can continuously update our content and further expand the number of topics and the depth with which they are treated without the space constraints of the print set. In fact, today our digital database is much larger than what we can fit in the print set. And it is up to date because we can revise it within minutes anytime we need to, and we do it many times each day.

While it may be shutting down the production of the print division, Encyclopaedia Britannica also announced that its entire online edition will be free to check out for the next week. A year's subscription to the online edition costs $69.95. It also offers an iPhone and iPad app.

Image via Encyclopaedia Britannica

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19 Comments

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wow never realized how much britannica cost as a complete set... $1,500 for all them is wow... considering all that same information is on the internet for free (not talking about for reasearching here, just for knowaldge)

You would have thought that the people who create such volumes of knowledge would have thought to do this a long time ago. And I think the pricing is a bit off also. Why not just crank up google and research your topic (for free!) /scratcheshead

I grew up with a set of encyclopedias sitting on a bookshelf in the living room (not Britannica's, but my point remains).

There's something to be said about picking up one of these volumes as a kid and thumbing through it on a rainy day. When I point a browser to Wikipedia, it's because I already have something in mind that I'm looking for. I feel following random links isn't the same thing at all even though, strictly speaking, I couldn't explain how that's not the case.

I suppose me being 30+ years older could have something to do with it...

A bit sad, fond memories of school projects years ago and I think it's a good thing for kids to look through rather than Googling it all the time.

Just saw this on the ABC Morning News. All I can say is wow!

I remember using my dad's set of these all the time, as a kid. Used to read them just for the heck of it. Do believe that this DOES prove print is dead.

derekaw said,
The Encyclopedia Britannica is totally irrelevant when you have the internet.

Unfortunately, if you need information you can prove and cite for school, there's not a whole lot of choices. They've got a good reputation.

Why would anyone pay 69.95 a year? A better model would be $39.99 for an installable suit good for PC & Mac with a 9.99 for the update to the newest year not installed already or previously purchased. For example the release in 2012 would be current through 12/31/2011 and about now you could purchase the update to add through 12/31/2012 and so on. Then add an additional 4.99 a month fee for online access anywhere including media ect to any mobile device for owners of the software.

The only good use of proprietary encyclopedias was the pretty-looking books that libraries can store... now they ditch the only advantage they had over wikipedia? smart move.

primexx said,
The only good use of proprietary encyclopedias was the pretty-looking books that libraries can store... now they ditch the only advantage they had over wikipedia? smart move.

You can use an Encyclopedia as a reference (that's not to say that it is 100% correct, but people can easily go back and find where you got your information). Most people can't use Wikipedia as a reference. I find errors in the Wikipedia all the time. Those errors have even lead to arguments at work, where I ask, "What's your source of information?" ..."Umm, the Wikipedia". Look up where they are getting that info and see that it was just added 2 months ago and the information keeps flip-flopping.

Shadrack said,

You can use an Encyclopedia as a reference (that's not to say that it is 100% correct, but people can easily go back and find where you got your information). Most people can't use Wikipedia as a reference. I find errors in the Wikipedia all the time. Those errors have even lead to arguments at work, where I ask, "What's your source of information?" ..."Umm, the Wikipedia". Look up where they are getting that info and see that it was just added 2 months ago and the information keeps flip-flopping.

I wouldn't cite an encyclopedia as a reference for any substantial writing. Most of wiki's articles are about as accurate as Britannica (some, like tech articles, are significantly more accurate) so it serves well for anything that Britannica would, provided, of course, that you keep an eye out for articles being edit-wared.

I have yet to stumble upon a university teacher who allows Wikipedia as source.
Hell, even my Politics teacher and my German teacher (amongst others) in high school had forbidden Wikipedia as source.

GS:win