Encyclopaedia Britannica to axe print editions
Wednesday 14 March 2012
Encyclopaedia Britannica is to stop publishing print editions of its flagship encyclopaedia for the first time since the sets were originally published more than 200 years ago.
The book-form of Encyclopaedia Britannica has been in print since it was first published in Edinburgh in 1768. It will stop being available when the current stock runs out, the company says.
The Chicago-based company will continue to offer digital versions of the encyclopaedia.
It said the end of the printed, 32-volume set had been foreseen for some time.
"This has nothing to do with Wikipedia or Google," Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc president Jorge Cauz said. "This has to do with the fact that now Britannica sells its digital products to a large number of people."
The top year for the printed encyclopaedia was 1990, when 120,000 sets were sold, Mr Cauz said. That number fell to 40,000 just six years later in 1996.
The company started exploring digital publishing the 1970s. The first CD-ROM version was published in 1989 and a version went online in 1994.
The final hardcover encyclopaedia set is available for sale at Britannica's website for 1,395 dollars (£894).
"The sales of printed encyclopaedias have been negligible for several years," Mr Cauz said. "We knew this was going to come."
The company plans to mark the end of the print version by making the contents of its website available free for one week starting on Tuesday.
Online versions of the encyclopaedia now serve more than 100 million people around the world, the company says, and are available on mobile devices.
The encyclopaedia has become increasingly social as well, Mr Cauz said, because users can send comments to editors.
"A printed encyclopaedia is obsolete the minute that you print it," he said. "Whereas our online edition is updated continuously."
Britannica has thousands of experts contributors from around the world, including Nobel laureates and world leaders such as former US president Bill Clinton and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It also has a staff of more than 100 editors.
"To me the most important message is that the printed edition was not what made Britannica," Mr Cauz said. "The most important thing about Britannica is thatBritannica is relevant and vibrant because it brings scholarly knowledge to an editorial process to as many knowledge seekers as possible."
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...