back to article Encyclopaedia Britannica nukes print edition, goes digital-only

Encyclopaedia Britannica is ending its hefty 32-volume print run after 244 years as it shifts its business entirely over to the digital publishing market. Sales of the world's oldest English-language encyclopaedia will continue until the company's remaining stock of 4,000 sets is depleted. A new edition of the collection is …

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  1. Mondo the Magnificent
    Unhappy

    End of an era..

    Plus I don't think an Encyclopaedia Britannica DVD case will look quite as good in a bookshelf as an entire 32 volume of the books of knowledge did..

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      WTF?

      Re: End of an era..

      Look on the bright side, it'll fit on your coffee table......

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: End of an era..

      I went to see how much it would cost to get such a piece of history - their server was down.

      1. cosymart
        Meh

        Re: End of an era..

        I suspect you are looking at the best part of a grand (£) for a standard set.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: End of an era..

          Yes, site up and it says "Full Payment Amount: £1,195.00"

          Still, it would look impressive...

          1. stucs201

            Re: "Full Payment Amount: £1,195.00"

            Thats the 'cheap' version. If you want it leather bound it as near as makes no difference £2000.

    3. Some Beggar
      Meh

      Re: End of an era..

      If you just want them for cheesy decoration then pick up an old set. Paper is a truly rubbish format for an encyclopædia.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: End of an era..

        Got a set from a library sale for 20quid. The newer ones (after 1995?) aren't really an encyclopedia, they have half the volumes as short articles on lots of topics and the other half are longer (10+pages) articles on the most popular topics.

        Interesting when they are well written. Anything science is mostly poor, except the few places that they have used articles from top writers. The technology coverage is terrible, reads like those 'future' bits from 60s 0r 70s magazines.

      2. M Gale

        Re: Paper is a rubbish format.

        The problem with being digital-only is that bit-rot and the tendency of late to DRM everything to death tends to act faster and much more efficiently than physical rot in rendering information unreadable.

        Still, I guess there's a "print" button.

        1. Some Beggar
          Thumb Down

          Re: Paper is a rubbish format.

          "bit-rot"

          You do realise that the paper versions of the Encyclopædia (and the OED and pretty much every other reference book you care to mention) are all made from digital originals, right?

          Bit rot is basically a myth.

          1. M Gale

            Re: Paper is a rubbish format.

            That's a bit like saying your car has a digital original because it was designed in a CAD program?

            Like I say, presumably there will still be a print button.

            1. Some Beggar
              WTF?

              Re: Paper is a rubbish format.

              "That's a bit like saying your car has a digital original because it was designed in a CAD program?"

              Only if you think you can drive to work in a CAD program.

              1. M Gale

                Re: Paper is a rubbish format.

                Nope.

                But I can read a book without switching it on. Doesn't demand that I download the latest version of the English language either. Or become unreadable because everyone has moved to Book v3.2.

                Yep, digital information is more conveniently searchable. It's hardly a good archive format though.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Shame

    A good encyclopaedia is is hard to find these days. Wikipedia is easy to find, of course, but suffers badly from being a load of steaming shite.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shame

      You do it a dis-service sir.

      If you only use WP for science-related articles (as I do) then their accuracy is '4 errors per article' compared to 3 for EB. Yes EB is more accurate (or rather has less errors) but I'd hardly call something that can run EB that close, FOR FREE, steaming shite (not for science topics anyway).And any errors is WP are mostly corrected when found (not corrected for a reissue in 2 years as with printed EB). There are more errors in the printed materials I have in my reference library (due to being out of date) than on WP, so I'm happy with it as a reference source - but as with EB, it should never be relied on as the sole source.

      Admittedly the rest of WP is steaming shite. :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Shame

        "And any errors is WP are mostly corrected when found "

        No, they're not. They may be CHANGED, but that's not the same thing at all.

        A wise man once said: "The internet does not need an encyclopedia, it IS an encyclopedia. What it needs is a good index".

        I set up Opera to filter all my Google results so that WP no longer appears in them. The web is a lot more useful that way, but we still need a better search engine.

    2. Some Beggar
      Headmaster

      Re: Shame

      "A good encyclopaedia is is hard to find these days."

      Hope this helps.

      http://local.direct.gov.uk/LDGRedirect/index.jsp?LGSL=437&LGIL=8&ServiceName=Find%20out%20about%20library%20services

  3. BoldMan
    Trollface

    Did he just call Jimbo Wales a tool?

  4. jonathan1

    On the flip side...

    Not that I'm particularly green, but this will go to saving a lot of trees...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On the flip side...

      Forget 'save the tree'...what happened to 'save the Wales' :-)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    History almost repeating ...

    There's been a digital version of the Britannica for many years, probably since 2001.

    I know because I foolishly bought it on DVD-Rom ...

    The UI was permanently sized at 1024 x 768 and the images were a fraction of that. It couldn't be updated and was unpleasant to use.

    1. Weeble

      Re: History almost repeating ...

      I also had an early Britannica CD-ROM (late 1990's I think), I seem to recall it was so bad that it made Encarta (RIP) look good.

      It was also chronically unstable (did it use Internet Explorer as its rendering engine?)

      Mind you, the OED on CD looks little better, and is just as unupgradable. Erudition, it would appear, does not confer an ability in UI design, s/w design, or customer focus

      .

      1. stucs201

        re: Internet Explorer as its rendering engine?

        The version I had used Netscape (version 2 I think).

    2. M Gale

      Re: History almost repeating ...

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BBC_Domesday_Project

      It wouldn't be the first time.

  6. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    They'd sell more if they did the digital one properly

    I bought a DVD version a few years ago, but it was hobbled in the way some video games used to be. Even if you "installed" it on a system, you had to have the DVD permanently in the drive to be able to use it. I wanted to put on on my home fileserver so I could access it from a laptop without having to go find the DVD, etc. Couldn't even "install" it conveniently on my laptop because of the nuisance DRM. It hardly got used, and I've recently resisted their offer to upgrade to a new version, even at £9.99 it's no bargain.

    A pity, I'd love to have room on my bookshelves for a full printed set. I do have a very entertaining 9-volume encyclopædia from around 1921. Entries like "motor car" are fun...

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: They'd sell more if they did the digital one properly

      My dad once got a full set of encyclopaedias a few years ago. They were dated 1956 and still defined "computer" as: "A man who computes."

      Where did it all go wrong?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They'd sell more if they did the digital one properly

      I have a set (somewhere) of Compton's Encyclopedia from the mid-1950's. It's missing 1 volume, which, if I ever actually get rich, and can find a copy, will be purchased just to have a full set.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sales will continue until the stock is depleted

    I wonder ... Have they thought of employing door-to-door salesmen?

    Also, how many is "depleted?"

    1. Sean Timarco Baggaley

      Re: Sales will continue until the stock is depleted

      Printed encyclopaedias are radioactive and have half-lives.

      (Or so it says here, in Vol. 9, P.1129, para. 8.)

    2. Anonymous Coward 15
      Joke

      Re: Sales will continue until the stock is depleted

      A whole lot of them will soon be seen falling out of tower blocks a la Monty Python.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a rubbish encyclopaedia anyway

    what with the almost total absence of articles on blink-and-you-miss-'em Star Wars background characters, let alone complete TJ Hooker episode guides

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Investment

    I recommend buying the oldest edition you can find, and the last edition they print. Both good long term investments, if you can afford it. Then use Wikipedia to look things up.

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