En­cy­clopae­dia Bri­tan­nica closes last chap­ter of hard­back pub­li­ca­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - Business -

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.

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