After 244 years, Encyclopaedia Britannica stops print edition in favour of digital

14 Mar 2012

Encyclopaedia Britannica will stop its print edition after 244 years, instead offering its information on the internet through Britannica Online.

The publisher will discontinue its 32-volume printed edition of its encyclopaedia once its current inventory runs out.

Instead it will focus on delivering information on the web through Britannica Online, which has 100m users, or through its apps, and will offer a free, week-long subscription to mark the occasion.

The move marks a huge landmark for Encyclopaedia Britannica, which has been in print since 1768. However, it said that despite this history, ‘no single medium, neither books nor bits’ is at the core of its mission. Its mission, it said, is to be a reliable, up-to-date and scholarly source of knowledge.

“I understand that for some the end of the Britannica print set may be perceived as an unwelcomed goodbye to a dear, reliable and trustworthy friend that brought them the joy of discovery in the quest for knowledge,” said Jorge Cauz, president of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

“By concentrating our efforts on our digital properties, we can continuously update our content and further expand the number of topics and the depth with which they are treated without the space constraints of the print set.

“In fact, today our digital database is much larger than what we can fit in the print set. And it is up to date because we can revise it within minutes anytime we need to, and we do it many times each day,” said Cauz.

The company was mainly a print publisher up until 1981, where it released its first digital encyclopaedia for LexisNexis. In 1989, it launched its first multimedia CD and in 1994, it launched the first online encyclopaedia.

It released Britannica Kids apps for iOS devices, before moving Encyclopaedia Britannica to the same platform in 2011.