Encyclopaedia Britannica closes last chapter of hardback publication
CHICAGO | Hours after Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. announced that it will stop publishing print editions of its flagship encyclopedia for the first time in more than 200 years, someone among the editing minions of free online rival Wikipedia made an irony-free note of that fact.
“It was announced that after 244 years, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print, instead focusing on its online encyclopedia,” the entry read.
The book-form of Encyclopaedia Britannica has been in print since it was first published in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1768. It will stop being available when the current stock runs out, the company said. The Chicago-based company will continue to offer digital versions of the encyclopedia.
Officials said the end of the printed, 32-volume set has been foreseen for some time.
“This has nothing to do with Wikipedia or Google,” Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. President Jorge Cauz said. “This has to do with the fact that now Britannica sells its digital products to a large number of people.”
The top year for the printed encyclopedia was 1990, when 120,000 sets were sold, Mr. Cauz said. That number fell to 40,000 just six years later, he said. The company started exploring digital publishing the 1970s. The first CD-ROM version was published in 1989 and a version went online in 1994.
The final hardcover encyclopedia set is available for sale at Britannica’s website for $1,395.