After 244 Years, Encyclopedia Britannica Discontinues

After an informative 244 years of all around knowledge, Encyclopedia Britannica’s print publication of the classic 32-volume reference set is finally discontinuing. Instead, the Chicago-based company has decided to focus on the development of its digital product to contend with the growth of informational sites in the digital era.

Over the years, the encyclopedia has had an impressive list of contributors including Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, 110 Nobel-Peace Prize winners and 5 U.S. presidents.

However, in the last 20 years, the hard copy of Britannica’s encyclopedia has slowly declined from 120,000 copies sold in 1990, 40,000 copies in 1996 and a staggering 8,000 copies sold in 2010. With sales numbers declining more drastically now then ever, a clear indication was sent that the company needed to adapt to the digital word instead of the written.

Britannica’s CEO Jorge Cauz in an interview stated, “The sales of printed encyclopedias have been neglible for several years. We knew this was going to come. A printed encyclopedia is obsolete the minute that you print it, whereas our online edition is updated continuously.”

Print reference’s have slowly become obsolete, greatly due to the expansion of the internet’s wide variety of free resources- including hugely popular Wikipedia. Since its early beginnings 11 years ago, Wikipedia has undergone major changes to satisfy academics. With now tens of thousands of editors contributing to the website, many scholars agree on its legitimacy as an accurate source.

Encyclopedia Britannica’s decision on discontinuing its print copies shows the progression and integration of the world towards the new digital age. Information and communication has transitioned over from newspapers, radio and television towards the ever growing WWW. Information can be processed, shared and viewed by millions all at once and this has drastic affects on are ways of life.

Slowly we are becoming completely dependent on all things technological, with factors weighing in on quickness and accurateness of digital information. The simple times are a thing of the past. With a growing database of information on everything that was and is available at just a click away- imagine what will come next.