Encyclopedia Britannica, as bound tomes of knowledge, have now gone the way of the DoDo bird.
After 244 years of printing editions, Encyclopedia Britannica decided to cancel the print version and will instead go the way of Wikipedia and focus on online versions. Unfortunately, unlike Wikipedia, the online version will be available for $70 per year. Yet until March 20, Britannica Online is available for free.
Surely a primary reason is Wikipedia, which grew year by year and now it’s one of the most accessed website in the world. In 11 years, Wikipedia managed to exceed the history of 244 years of Britannica print editions.
The last version of Encyclopaedia Britannica was printed in 2010 and contains 32-volumes, weighing 129 pounds. R.I.P.
A little history of Britannica:
- In 1768, three visionary Scotsmen created the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and wanted “to bring scholarly knowledge through a rigorous editorial process to as many knowledge seekers as possible”.
- In 1989, Britannica introduced Compton’s MultiMedia Encyclopedia on a CD. This was the first ever Encyclopedia that had moving images and was a compressed version of Britannica Encyclopedia.
- In 1994, Britannica Online was the first encyclopedia available on the Internet, at www.eb.com. Also this marks the first full version of the entire Britannica on CD-ROM.
- In 2000, Britannica introduced the first mobile version of their Encyclopedia on Palm VII phone. Right now, the mobile version of Britannica is available on iOS, Android devices.
- During 2001 and 2007 Britannica introduced several websites to fit the needs of K-12 schools, universities, public libraries and consumers.
- In 2006, Britannica announced that more than half of the company’s revenues came from digital products and less than half from print products.
- In 2012, Britannica announces that the printing editions of their Encyclopedia will be discontinued and the company will move forward with the digital version.
So, here we are 244 years later, witnessing the end of an era and the beginning of another one. Britannica will still be remembered as one of the biggest inventions for further knowledge and will hopefully still continue to be used by large audiences — albeit audiences who are willing to pay $70.
I am proud of having probably the last version of Britannica Encyclopedia(bought in 2010) in my library and even if some parts are not even unsealed, I think one day I’ll explore them.
For everything you have done, thank you Britannica!