Encyclopedia Britannica Ends Print Edition

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CHICAGO (UPI) — Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., based in Chicago, says it is switching entirely to online publication after 244 years and the 2010 print version will be the last.

Jorge Cauz, president of the Britannica, said sales of the book version represent only 1 percent of the company’s revenue, CNN reported Tuesday. The vast majority of revenue, about 85 percent, comes from sales of education tools and 15 percent comes from the online version of the encyclopedia.

“The print set is an icon. But it’s an icon that doesn’t do justice to how much we’ve changed over the years,” Cauz said.

The first edition of the Britannica was published in Edinburgh, Scotland, between 1768 and 1771, making it the oldest encyclopedia in English still being updated. Since 1933, it has had a policy of “continuous revision,” with updated versions issued every two years.

In recent years, Britannica has had more than 4,000 contributors, mostly top experts in their fields.

Cauz said he believes many people will be willing to pay $70 a year for an online subscription to the Britannica even though Wikipedia and Google are free.

“Wikipedia is a wonderful technology for collecting everything from great insights to lies and innuendos,” Cauz said. “It’s not all bad or all good, just uneven. It’s the murmur of society, a million voices rather than a single informed one.”

 

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