Britannica ends its print edition – Updated 5 April 2012
After 244 years reference book firm Encyclopaedia Britannica has decided to stop publishing its famous and weighty 32-volume print edition. It will now focus on digital expansion amid rising competition from websites such as Wikipedia.
The firm, which used to sell its encyclopaedias door-to-door, now generates almost 85% its revenue from online sales. It recently launched a digital version of its encyclopaedias for tablet PCs. “The sales of printed encyclopaedias have been negligible for several years,” said Jorge Cauz president of Encyclopaedia Britannica. “We knew this was going to come.”
Companies across the globe have been trying to boost their online presence in a bid to cash in on the fast-growing market. Various newspapers, magazines and even book publishers have been coming up with online versions of their products as an increasing number of readers access information on high-tech gadgets such as tablet PCs and smartphones.
Britannica said while its decision to focus on online editions was influenced by the shift in consumer pattern, the ability to update content at a short notice also played a big role. “A printed encyclopaedia is obsolete the minute that you print it,” Mr Cauz said, “whereas our online edition is updated continuously.”
At the same time, frequent users of the encyclopaedia said they preferred using the online version more than the print one. “We have to answer thousands of questions each month through chat, through telephone, through email and we have to do that as quickly as humanly possible,” Richard Reyes-Gavilan of Brooklyn Public Library said. “In many instances doing a keyword search in an online resource is simply a lot faster than standing up looking at the index of the Britannica and then finding the appropriate volume.”
Encyclopaedia Britannica, the company, has largely moved away from its encyclopaedia work focusing most of its energies in recent years on educational software.
I want to complain and decry the loss of another great institution, of another great book ripped from the ever-diminishing library shelves in our rapidly disappearing libraries.
Not everyone has access to a PC [sic] and despite Government targets and the apparently low cost of technology, and not everyone ever will.
We need libraries, and we need an up-to-date copy of Britannica for reference in every one. £300 for a computer is still very expensive if you don’t have it, let alone the cost of the CD-Britannica, which, as a final thought, doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as The Encyclopaedia Britannica does it?
So boo, I say, overall – BOO!
UPDATE 5 April 2012
Encyclopedia Britannica’s final print edition on verge of selling out