After 244 years, Encyclopedia Britannica will cease production of its iconic multi-volume book sets.
Britannica usually prints a new set of the tomes every two years, but 2010’s 32-volume set will be its last. Instead, the company will focus solely on its digital encyclopedia and education tools.
The news is sure to sadden champions of the printed word, but Britannica president Jorge Cauz said the move is a natural part of his company’s evolution.
In truth, Cauz says, the death knell sounded long ago. Though the name “Britannica” calls the print sets to mind, Cauz says they represent less than 1% of the company’s total sales.
The online version of the encyclopedia, which was first published in 1994, represents only 15% of Britannica’s revenue. The other 85% is sales of education products: online learning tools, curriculum products and more.
That’s not surprising to Michael Norris, a senior trade books analyst at Simba Information, who says reference books have taken the worst hit with the rise of digital.
That younger generation is accustomed to finding content for free via Google or thatother online encyclopedia: Wikipedia. It’s unclear whether people will be willing to pay for a household subscription, which costs $70 per year, or an app version for $1.99 per month.
Britannica will start offering more free content to entice potential subscribers. But Cauz doesn’t expect Britannica to replace or even overtake Wikipedia. He sees the situation as “different senses of responsibility.”
As a result, Cauz says, consumers are craving accuracy and are willing to pay for it.
In a nod to those changes, Britannica is relaunching its site in three weeks to add more social connections and interactivity.
Cauz says he celebrates those changes, as well as the end of the print set — which was first published in Scotland in 1768. In fact, Britannica is throwing itself a party on Wednesday.
To see a video link to CNN click here:http://money.cnn.com/2012/03/13/technology/encyclopedia-britannica-books/index.htm
Do you think more companies will stop print production and move online? How will this affect the future of how we get information? Does it really matter because the majority of people search online anyways?