Encyclopedia Britannica bites the dust

Marc Sanchez Mar 14, 2012

As technology bringeth, it also taketh away. Encyclopedia Britannica announced yesterday that, after 244 years, it will no longer publish a print edition. Goodbye you big, ugly building blocks of so many elementary school essays. You will be missed.

Chicago-based Britannica says it will focus on its online and educational business. For $70 a pop, you can get a subscription to Britannica’s digital domain, where information, articles, and videos, are posted and made accessible to computers and mobile devices.

That’s a much easier pill to swallow than the price of the current set of books, as the New York Times reports: “The Britannica, the oldest continuously published encyclopedia in the English language, has become a luxury item with a $1,395 price tag. It is frequently bought by embassies, libraries and research institutions, and by well-educated, upscale consumers who felt an attachment to the set of bound volumes. Only 8,000 sets of the 2010 edition have been sold, and the remaining 4,000 have been stored in a warehouse until they are bought.”

Sales of the encyclopedia peaked at 120,000 sets in 1990, just about the time our pal The Internet was learning to crawl and about a decade before a guy named Jimmy Wales bought the domain name Wikipedia.


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