comScore Encyclopedia Britannica Closes Print Operation After 244 Years | The Mary Sue
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Encyclopedia Britannica Closes Its Print Operation After 244 Years


Due to the digital age in which we live, Encyclopedia Britannica will be ending its print operation after 244 years, with the last entry in said print operation being the 2010, 32-volume set. Encyclopedia Britannica won’t be giving up its existence, however, as it will focus on its online encyclopedias and its school curriculum.

President of the Chicago-based Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., Jorge Cauz, said giving up the printed version for the digital version is “a rite of passage in this new era,” and though people will feel sad and nostalgic about losing the print version, and referring to the Internet version, said there’s a better tool out there now for the encyclopedia series.

Though Encyclopedia Britannica will focus primarily on its online version, Cauz acknowledges that sites like Wikipedia have an advantage of size over Encyclopedia Britannica, but doesn’t consider it as bad thing:

“We have very different value propositions. Britannica is going to be smaller. We cannot deal with every single cartoon character, we cannot deal with every love life of every celebrity. But we need to have an alternative where facts really matter. Britannica won’t be able to be as large, but it will always be factually correct.”

Though Wikipedia is technically editable by anyone who feels like it, it hasn’t quite been the old untrusted source it used to be, but Cauz still makes a good point, and if held at gunpoint, people would most likely stick with the legitimacy of Encyclopedia Britannica rather than the potential falseness of Wikipedia.

Unfortunately for Encyclopedia Britannica, the encyclopedia set became more of a luxury over the years than a useful set of books, with the 2010 version sporting a price tag of $1,395 — more expensive than a computer that can access the plethora of legitimate information sources provided by the Internet. The New York Times notes that only 8,000 sets of the 2010 version have been sold, compared to the 120,000 sets that were sold in 1990 in the United States alone. Currently, around 500,000 households are paying $70 per year for a subscription to the online encyclopedia.

Though we all live in this modern age and can see the signs of the popularity of actual printed books somewhat dwindling, there will most likely always be a place for a tangible book with pages one can actually turn, no matter how inefficient they technically become. After all, it is much easier to keep a smartphone in your pocket, and much more efficient to roll all of your books up into one small device. So, fare thee well, print Encyclopedia Britannica, and we’ll see you on the Internet where we see just about everything else.

(via The New York Times)

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