The 244-year-old Encyclopedia Britannica will be going out of print this year, abdicating to the likes of Google and Wikipedia. Most adults will remember looking up information in the IRL knowledge-base’s volumes, but the iconic encyclopedia only represents 1 percent of the company’s total sales today. Britannica traditionally published a new set of tomes every 2 years, but the company decided that the 2010 version (which costs $1,400) will be the final edition. Britannica will sell its remaining 4,000 copies of the encyclopedia, and then end its run.
The company will still sell its online version at a subscription price of $70 per year (there’s also an app version that will put you out $2 per month) but even that only accounts for 15 percent of Britannica’s revenue. The other 85 percent comes from the company’s sales of educational products like its online learning tools. Britannica says it may start offering more free information to muster subscribers.
The books were originally printed in Scotland in 1768. Since then, 7 million bound sets have been sold. The company’s president, Jorge Cauz, said the company will throw a party for itself on Wednesday to celebrate the changes with a “cake in the shape of a print set,” according to CNN Money.
Personally, as a kid, I loved Encyclopedia Britannica. My dad’s 1960’s edition had my favorite entry, the one for “Frog” showing the different layers of a dissected frog on transparent layers. Feel free to share your favorite entry (if you have one, naturally) below.
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Encyclopædia Britannica’s 2010 edition to be its last