Encyclopedia Britannica Going out of PrintAfter 244 years of constant year on year publishing, it was announced yesterday that the Encyclopedia Britannica was going out of print. Sure, in a world of Wikipedia and computers this was probably inevitable, and sure the sets involve dozens of books, each weighing a couple pounds. And sure, there’s no way to update paper when new information comes along other than to write it in the margins, but we’re still going to miss them.
The amazing thing is that it has only been 2 decades since the Encyclopedia Britannica’s peak: back in 1990, the company behind the books managed to sell 120,000 copies. More recent printings have, however, been far less successful. The 2010 set only sold 8,000 of the 12,000 copies printed.
With the print version gone, the company is looking towards the future and, specifically, to competition against Wikipedia. Jorje Cauz, president of Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., feels that the world needs another information source set to take on Wikipedia’s hegemony. And while the various other projects that have aimed to do so have failed (Google once had an alternate wiki, and the co-founder of Wikimedia once started another one, too) the Encyclopedia Britannica might actually have a chance. Their focus on expert-curated material means that their information will have a greater likelyhood of being correct.
But that doesn’t mean that Cauz wants to trounce Wikipedia. On the contrary. As he says:
"We cannot deal with every single cartoon character, we cannot deal with every love life of every celebrity. But we need to have an alternative where facts really matter. Britannica won't be able to be as large, but it will always be factually correct."