Encyclopedia Britannica Closes Printing Presses, Focuses On iOS App


Macbook 1
Computing devices are the new encyclopedias. Sort of.
Photo: Apple

Encyclopedia Britannica is the oldest English encyclopedia still in production, with roots dating all the way back to 1768. If you went to school before the dawn of Wikipedia, you might have fond memories of rummaging through Britannica’s pages while researching a sixth-grade report.

Sadly, the 32-volume printed edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica will no longer be published, as the company focuses on presenting its content digitally.

Competing with Wikipedia’s free online encyclopedia has taken a huge chunk of sales from Encyclopedia Britannica, but the editors behind the publication are determined to carry on and present the highest-quality encyclopedia on the market. Because their customers are moving en masse to digital books, Britannica views the discontinuation of print as “just another historical data point in the evolution of human knowledge.”

Britannica is working on bringing a lot of new features and content to its iOS app, which gives more options to present information in numerous vibrant forms that aren’t confined to the physical pages of books. Britannica’s iOS app is free to download but requires a monthly fee of $1.99.

[via Britannica]

  • clivex

    All the way back to 1968, eh?

  • Romeyn Prescott

     I came in here to say exactly this.

  • Buster

    nothing slips by you guys. :) 

    fixed the typo

  • David Marshall

    Sad. Print gets dated, but looks more impressive on a bookshelf. More importantly, comparing multiple books is easier than on screens. Centralizing important historical data online will build huge, powerful self-serving monopolies. 

  • Thrint

    Ummmm, correct me if I am wrong but the picture shows “World Book.” Which is NOT the Encyclopedia Britannica.

  • Len Williams

    Exactly! The World Book Encyclopedia is a competitor to the Encyclopedia Britanica. They are not the same company at all, so this is an incorrect photo for this article. World Book is an American company and not British at all.

  • Connor Mulcahey

    I think I’ll stick with wikipedia, its reliable enough for being free, especially when you consider how much it covers. I also like the idea of Web 2.0, where the site is merely a frame that is filled in by users from around the world, just like YouTube, Facebook etc. The idea of freedom of information is very… …can’t think of the right word, but you get the point.

  • MacAdvisor

    Certainly the wrong books, however, Encyclopaedia Britannica (note the correct spelling, the words are Latin) is not British, not at all, and never has been. It started in 1768 in Edinburgh, Scotland (if you value your life, do not call a Scotsman “British” and if you value the life of you and your family, don’t call him “English”). It stayed there until 1901, when it was moved to America, where it has remained ever since. Thus, it is an American encyclopedia with a Latin name and is currently headquartered in Chicago, IL. There are some 4,000 copies of the last print edition still available, the 2010 edition, at $1,395 through the Britannica web site. 

    World Book Encyclopedia, on the other hand, does use the American spelling and wasn’t started until 1917 or about 150 years after Britannica. World Book, currently owned by a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, is also headquartered in Chicago and still maintains a print edition. One may still buy various editions of the World Book, from the 2010 Universe Binding for $1,050 to the Advanced Research Package 2012 for $1,200.

  • Shaunathan Sprocket

    The only problem with Wikipedia is most educational institutions will not except it as a citation.  So you MUST use world book or EB.  Honestly, I wish the wiki project would focus more on legitimizing their information since it’s by far the fastest to search.

    1.99 a month… really? Can’t I just pay the hardback price of 1395.00 for lifetime access??

  • Bee

    Subscription at $2 per month? It’s greedy! New EB should be released as ebook, or better as iOS epub ebook for its multimedia and interactivity features. The whole complete packages should be sold at one third of the hard book price, about $300. It’s also sold per volume (ala carte) with each cost about $10 (so if one buy all 32 volumes will cost more than the complete package). By releasing new edition annually as new ebook, not as update to previous edition, EB will have annual income. Believe me, if EB is sold this way, it will succeed like the way iTunes succeed selling music.

  • BillBlackfield

    This clearly shows us the trend of how the world is shifiting towards online tv and digital content. Keeping with this trend of digital content in recent times, a new company called MyCube has emerged which seems very interesting. It allows users to post and view content and also get rewarded for it.