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Encyclopaedia Britannica moves to app subscription model

Just over a month ago, we reported that the revered Encyclopaedia Britannica had decided to bring an end to its 244-year history of printed volumes, moving instead to a purely digital future, based around its web-based offering and a smartphone app.

Its new app has now launched, and introduces a remarkably affordable subscription model, compared with the relatively vast price of the encyclopaedia in book form, and even undercuts the subscription cost to its own website resources.

While the app itself is free, full access to the encyclopaedia and its associated resources will cost £1.99 a month in the UK (around $3.20 USD or €1.20 EUR). By comparison, access to the Britannica Online site costs £1.75 per week based on a monthly subscription, or £0.99 per week based on an annual subscription. The cost of Britannica’s last printed edition was a whopping £1,195 ($1900 USD / €1460 EUR).

Not exactly pocket-sized.

Some features of the app will be free, if you don’t like the idea of paying for a subscription; the first 100 words of each article are freely available, for example, while the most popular encyclopaedia entries will also be available to read in their entirety without charge.

But Britannica hopes that an emphasis on the quality of information, compared with the likes of Wikipedia or dubiously-sourced websites, will encourage users to pay up the relatively modest sum for a subscription to its content. The managing director of Encyclopaedia Britannica UK told TechRadar: “This app will provide access to our expertly edited and curated content for millions of people and continue our commitment to education in the mobile age. The release of the Britannica app also marks another important step in the transformation of the Britannica business.”

You can download the app from the iTunes App Store right now; an Android version will arrive “by the end of the year”.  

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