In a milestone of digital dominance in the publishing industry, Encyclopaedia Britannica will cease publication in print and move entirely to digital.
It’s been a good (print) run for the Encyclopædia Britannica (Latin for “British Encyclopaedia”), the oldest English-language encyclopaedia still around, first published between 1768 and 1771 in Edinburgh, Scotland in three volumes.
Available in print, DVD, and on the Internet, with 100 full-time editors and 4,000 plus expert contributors, Britannica set the bar as the most scholarly of all encyclopaedias.
“The print edition became more difficult to maintain and wasn’t the best physical element to deliver the quality of our database and the quality of our editorial,” Jorge Cauz, president of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., told Reuters. “Britannica was one of the first companies to really feel the full impact of technology, maybe twenty years ago, and we have been adapting to it, though it is very difficult at times.”
The flagship, 32-volume print edition, available every two years, sold for $1400 every two years (get the 2010 final edition while it lasts) versus an online subscription costs $70 per year and recent apps range from $1.99 to $4.99 per month. The company will keep selling print editions until the current 4000 sets run out.
“The whole idea of a top-down, orchestrated, unified compendium of knowledge makes less and less sense in a world where fact and analysis can arise in a bottom-up way and be organized by technological tools for your edification,” writes The Atlantic’s Robert Wright.
“And, leaving aside Britannica’s archaic logistics, there’s something quaintly pre-post-modern about the premise that for every subject there is a true expert who can be counted on to give you the objective truth.”
Maybe, long after even the electronic edition of Britannica is gone, the idea of Britannica can remain for us what it once was for me — a kind of Platonic ideal that we aspire to evolve toward even if we can never reach it, something that has a kind of reality even if we can never touch it.”
Britannica’s 9th edition (1875–1889) and 11th edition (1911) are considered the brand’s landmark editions, setting the tone for the brand’s renowned scholarship and literary style.
Asked about the general future of print editions of books, Cauz commented “print may not completely vanish from the market, but I think it is going to be increasingly less important. Many publications will never have a print analog and will only be printed on digital formats.”
Britannica’s editors, meanwhile, dealt with the end of its print edition in a series of blog posts entitled:
• “Change. It’s Okay. Really”
• “Looking Ahead”
• “Britannica Today”
• “Britannica Goes All-Out Digital” and
• “Britannica’s Digital Milestones.”
Please also refer to Britannica’s entry for “Print Publishing, Death of.”
Source: Brand Channel