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Australian Times


Encyclopaedia Britannica Out of Print

March 14, 2012 by Ben Collins in Business

Encyclopedia Britannica has published its last leather bound version.

Once sold door to door for close to $2,000 for a set of 32 ornamental books, it appears as though the digital age has taken yet another victim. Encyclopaedia Britannica will instead focus on its online web services and school curriculum products. President of Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. Jorge Cauz remarked:

It’s a rite of passage in this new era, Some people will feel sad about it and nostalgic about it. But we have a better tool now. The website is continuously updated, it’s much more expansive and it has multimedia.

The final set of immaculate leather bound encyclopedias will be the 2010 Edition, in all its 32 volume glory. Whilst many will be disappointed that the beautiful books will no longer grace the world’s living rooms, questions will inevitably be asked whether the printed encyclopedia could have been saved with a more modern business model.

It it clear that there was a time when the printed versions had a monopoly over knowledge before research became about Googling. Knowing this, there was a relatively high markup on the printed encyclopedias which could no longer be justified in the online world. Britannica never dropped their prices to modernize it’s market appeal and re position itself as a viable alternative to having a computer switched on 24/7.

The point may be moot now, but I expect if they Britannica could have slashed the cost of printed encyclopedias, the living room education of the world would not be tainted by Wikipedia, which has an over supply of serial know-it-all types hell bent on making their view the world view.



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