Encyclopaedia Britannica To End Print Editions

CHICAGO (AP) — Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. said Tuesday that it will stop publishing print editions of its flagship encyclopedia 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, Scotland, in 1768. It will stop being available when the current stock runs out, the company said. The Chicago-based company will continue to offer digital versions of the encyclopedia.

Officials said the end of the printed, 32-volume set has 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 encyclopedia was 1990, when 120,000 sets were sold, Cauz said. That number fell to 40,000 just six years later in 1996, he said. 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 encyclopedia set is available for sale at Britannica’s website for $1,395.

“The sales of printed encyclopedias have been negligible for several years,” 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 Tuesday.

Online versions of the encyclopedia now serve more than 100 million people around the world, the company said, and are available on mobile devices. The encyclopedia has become increasingly social as well, Cauz said, because users can send comments to editors.

“A printed encyclopedia is obsolete the minute that you print it,” Cauz said.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 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,” Cauz said. “The most important thing about Britannica is that Britannica is relevant and vibrant because it brings scholarly knowledge to an editorial process to as many knowledge seekers as possible.”

(TM and © Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • German Leprechaun

    This must be terribly distressing for Lyndia…

    • LYNDIA

      Why would it distressing for me, mr. nazi?

  • Slobby

    These things are obsolete the minute they’re printed.

    • Smashicus

      I absolutely disagree. Much of the information is useful, and in only in some rare situations erroneous.

  • ManHands

    If they hadn’t been so complacent, they could have been Wikipedia. #toolate

    • freecheese

      Wikipedia is the “Oliver Stone” of search engines. Anybody can add whatever mis-truth they want. Just like a Stone movie.

      • Etienne

        Encyclopaedia Britannic has in essence become (in recent years) the same thing. Read my post further down to see my example.

      • Ned Stark

        Very true. The good thing about print is that it is almost impossible to revise.

        It’s the downfall of digital references, credibility shifts as quickly as the content.

      • LookItUp

        Just another dumb story to take attention away from the coup and cover up. Unelected officials took over Washington and the media.

        Our next election is shaping up to be as big of a sham as the last. Do you know why Sarah Palin’s bus tour was really canceled? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she’s not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin and Cain aren’t in the race for the same reason, the truth leaked out. Search PalinsDirtyLittleSecret for the biggest cover up in history

  • Paul Edinger

    Wikipedia isn’t perfect but when Bill Clinton is your source, you have all the evidence you need to know to check your sources all the time.

  • M. Webster

    “Whereas our online edition is updated continuously.” “Continually” is the correct word.

  • merriam young

    just another silly over assumption, by a population that thinks it has hit intellectual paydirt with a very young and very flawed internet. You cant measure the benefit of the unmaligned printed encyclopedia, apparently. The exploration of space is over with and the u.s. postal service is going bankrupt, because we paydirt hipsters like to mail our packages the trendy way, by google river steamship, its old meets new but it takes twice the time.

  • JBenz

    Even though it was obviously going to happen, it’s sad to me to see the EB disappear from print. My first job over 50 years ago was on the editorial staff of the EB, where my first job was to check every date, spelling of names, etc., against other print sources.

  • Etienne

    According to the [errant, very un-factual] “new” online edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica, the region known as “palestine”, is an ancient, 3,000 year old nation state made up of a populace of “palestinians” who lost political control of their destiny in the 20th century. When one tries to look up “Israel” (the nation-state that DOES, INDEED & IN FACT – culturally & politically go back 3,000 years) one is simply referred to: “see palestinian history”. If this is not a totally REVI$IONI$T, FRAUDULENT FORM OF HI$TORY, BOUGHT & PAID FOR BY THE I$LAMIC ARAB OIL CARTEL – TOTALLY COMPROMI$ING THE HISTORIC ACCURACY OF THE OLD “BRITANNICA’, I ask you WHAT IS?

    • Etienne

      …It is the same as if a [formerly] credible, history gathering & publishing book corporation simply decided to one day tweak actual, written & published history to publish something in essence COMPLETELY FABRICATED such as “The nation of France is historically an Islamic State, settled by arabs in the 3rd millenium B.C. and today is one of the largest Islamic states in the Western European Union.” This, of course, is an obvious revisionist view of history – BUT IT IS EXACTLY WHAT THE ONLINE VERSION OF THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA HAS DONE, ERASING ISRAEL & THE LONG & TRAGIC JEWISH HISTORY FROM THE PAGES OF TIME & ENTIRELY REPLACING IT WITH A FRAUDULENT HISTORY OF AN “ANCIENT” PALESTINIAN PEOPLE [When in fact they were a colonial invention and never ever referred to themselves as palestinian until 1964. THIS IS REAL, FACTUAL EVIDENCE.
      If you don’t believe me about Britannica’s online FRAUD & DECEPTION, look it up yourself & see. Israel should sue them for slander.

  • Trix

    “1984” anyone?

  • http://hg2au.com/2012/03/14/end-of-an-era-encyclopaedia-britannica-out-of-print/ End of an Era: Encyclopaedia Britannica Out of Print | Quicksilver to Gold

    […] is the end of an era.  The LAST print edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica has been made and when the stock runs out, there will be no more print […]

  • Dave

    It’s ashame. The reason is that when you read a book you absorb it. It’s the touch, the feel and the dimensional effect. I guess I’m just old fuddy duddy born in 53. I’m not making ant judgements on anyone else, just my opinion.

  • kh

    After reading the comments, I want to purchase the EB version that was so popular in 1990[perhaps before the “revisionist history”. Make copies and distribute…

  • http://billchance.wordpress.com Bill Chance

    Nobody other than me seems to remember the paper cuts. Won’t miss those.

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