updated 08:00 pm EDT, Tue March 13, 2012
Encyclopaedia Britannica done after 244 years
Encyclopaedia Britannica ended one of the longest print runs in history by revealing in an interview that the last print edition of its collection was going off the presses. The 2010 edition currently being sold for $1,395 will be the last print copy, the New York Times was told, with the remaining 4,000 copies out of 12,000 being cleared out. Attention would shift more towards the online version and educational programs.
The paper version has been in print for 244 years and culminated in sales of 120,000 copies just in 1990, when incomes had made the encyclopaedia relatively affordable but before the Internet was in widespread use. The rush of Internet adoption, as well as the brief popularity of CD and DVD encyclopaedias, quickly reduced it from a staple of some American households to mostly redundant. Encyclopaedia Britannica the company has so far been successful in reducing its dependency on the hardcover book collections and makes just one percent of its revenue from the traditional book.
Wikipedia has been given a large part of the credit for accelerating the decline. While questions still exist about the authority of sources on some articles, the site has been tested enough that many consider it an authoritative enough replacement for Encyclopaedia Britannica and most traditional sources.
Online material also has access to mobile apps, videos, and other components that a print book couldn't. Online also allows for corrections and for challenges to definitions.