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The Print Edition Of The Encyclopedia Britannica Is No More!


Well, chalk yet another victory up for the “paperless age.” Encyclopedia Britannica, the 244 year-old print business that had served as the alpha and omega for middle school research reports, has decided to knock it off with this print business and focus on its online component. Which is to say, unless the company finds a way to knock out free rival Wikipedia, that it just lost its sole viable income stream and now relies on a wing and a prayer to stay in business.

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The news shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has been online in the past ten years or so. First, the multimedia CD-ROM Microsoft Encarta, threatened all published reference works by containing the same amount of written info (along with a lot more video, photographic, and audio work) on a CD that was often free, and at most cost about a $100, rather than the $1,395 that the written Britannica cost.

Further, the sales of the 32-volume bound reference set peaked way back in 1990, and the most recent 2010 edition only constituted 1% of the company’s profit. It’s hard not to enjoy the ease and efficiency of Wikipedia, but it’s still a little sad to say goodbye to such a staple of academic life as recently as about ten years ago.

Oh well. One day Wikipedia will be compromised, and a gaggle of misguided students will beg for the reputation of a non-crowdsourced reference tool.

That will teach those lousy teenagers!

(via The Daily

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