After years of cost cutting, lay-offs, and reorganizations, the venerable Encyclopaedia Britannica announced this week
the cessation of print publication. From now on, new versions of the encyclopedia will only be available in digital form. Their final print run was for 12,000 sets, which stands in sharp contrast to the 500,000 online subscribers.
This shift comes as something of an anti-climax, as the company had already changed focus several years ago from the encyclopedia to the more lucrative business of providing instructional materials to schools.
In response to competition from Wikipedia, the LA Times notes, “Britannica opened its articles to user contributions three years ago. Unlike Wikipedia, however, Britannica fact checkers fully vet every entry thoroughly and quickly, making its online database more reliable than a user-generated source.”
I was pleased to see that the World Book, my own childhood encyclopedia of choice, still maintains a print presence, although it looks like it's only a matter of time before it, too, is driven out of the physical world.