This can be categorized as news that almost everyone saw coming from miles away. The news was made official last Tuesday, March 13th, as Jorge Cauz (the president of the Chicago-based Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.) announced that the world-famous Encyclopaedia Britannica would be going out of print and concentrate solely on its online/digital offerings at Britannica Online.
The Britannica is the oldest English-language encyclopaedia that was still being produced in print (its recent print year was 2010), and the announcement marks the end of Britannica’s remarkable 244-year run in that medium, which at one point was the hallmark of middle class homes, schools and libraries. In 1990, Britannica experienced its highest number of sales at over 120,000 sets being sold in that year alone, however, as the internet exploded in popularity, Britannica’s sales soon decreased as a result. In 2010, the publisher sold only 8,000 sets (a far, far, FAR cry from the 120,000 mark in 1990), as 4,000 unsold sets were left to collect dust at the publisher’s warehouse.
Who knows, maybe if the Britannica concentrates more on their online offerings, they may be able to chip away at Wikipedia’s popularity. It may be true that they won’t have as many topics (number-wise) covered as the internet’s favorite open-sourced encyclopedia website, but at least we can be assured that Britannica Online’s entries will be near 100% correct and factual.
[Thanks New York Times]