After 244 years of continuous printing,Encyclopaedia Britannica has announced it will stop the presses and cease producing printed versions of the encyclopaedia. Reflecting the digitalisation of today’s information age, Encyclopaedia Britannica’s move will enable a greater range of products and services to be provided…
Starting from humble beginnings in 1768, Encyclopaedia Britannica is indeed a feat in itself. In line with the company’s diversification and strategic vision, the encyclopaedia is moving to an online edition only. Encyclopaedia Britannica is not new to the digital world. It has been offering an online version since 1994 at www.eb.com with numerous public libraries subscribing to the service. CD rom versions were released in 1995. The long foreseen move to stop printing the Encyclopaedia reflects changing times, with Jorge Cauz, president of Encyclopaedia saying at the media release on March 14 2012; “We’re digital. We’re mobile. And we’re social.”
Encyclopaedia Britannica felt the move to digitalisation as early as 2006 when digital products reached 50% of Britannica’s total revenue. It began to diversify and create e-learning sites for a wide portfolio of target clients, including primary and secondary schools, universities, libraries and consumers.
Cauz is optimistic about the encyclopaedia’s future despite free encylopaedic sources being freely available, such as Wikipedia. Encyclopaedia Britannica is now not only a reference source, but an online classroom and community with a wide range of products. It boasts several online products including Britannica Online School Edition PrepK-12 which enables teaching staff to share teaching plans. Unlike Wikipedia which relies on users and volunteers to source and correct errors, revisions made to Encyclopaedia online are reviewed by experienced editorial staff, “fact checked” and reviewed before the article is updated. This remains one of the selling points of the worldwide trustworthy source Encyclopaedia Britannica.
To celebrate this landmark, Encyclopaedia Britannica is freely available for one week at www.eb.com The last Encyclopaedia Britannica printed edition is the 2010 edition which is no longer in print, with stocks depleting.
Update – 2 April 2012
Encyclopedia Britannica sales have skyrocketed since the last announcement. This is to be expected, of course. On the date of the announcement, 4000 copies of the 2010 final edition were still yet to be sold. Today, less than 1000 remain.
In terms of sales per week, before the announcement it had been selling the Encyclopedia print editions at a rate of 60 per week (on average). Now, it has sold about 1050 copies per week, since the announcement. This is at the same US$1,395 price.
Mr Cauz, president of the Encyclopaedia told the New York Times, “When they thought it would be around forever, there was no rush to buy one. But now, suddenly, it’s a scarce item.”
Feel free to leave a comment.