While this day was inevitable ever since the early days of the internet, the announcement is still very notable, marking a major milestone in the progress of our systems of learning and knowledge acquisition – the Encyclopaedia Britannica will no longer produce print volumes, after 244 years and nearly as many editions off the presses.
According to the publishers, the 2010 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica will be last in print, a 32-volume set that does credit to the institution that first began with a 3-volume set in 1768. However, priced at roughly $1,400, the edition has reportedly only sold 8,000 copies till date – those wanting to buy one of the remaining 4,000 for posterity should start procuring.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica’s online portal (found at eb.com) has been completely revamped, including various multimedia and educations tools, like many of the more popular free and paid online encyclopedias knowledge resources and . It will be accessible to more than a 100 million people globally, and for a week starting today, the entire resource will be free to access, for potential subscribers to see what they will be investing in.
Jorge Cruz, President of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, spoke about the future of the resource, on a company blog announcing retirement of print, entitled "Change: It’s Okay. Really.":
“In spite of our long history with print, I would like to point out that no single medium, neither books nor bits, is at the core of our mission. That mission is to be a reliable, up-to-date, and scholarly source of knowledge and learning for the general public."
"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."
"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. At Encyclopaedia Britannica we believe that the announcement that we will no longer print the 32-volume encyclopedia is of great significance, not for what it says about our past, but for what it projects about our vibrant present and future as a digital provider of general knowledge and instructional services."