In a move that highlights the emerging dominance of digital publishing, a hallmark of school libraries around the world is ending its print editions forever.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, the oldest English-language encyclopedia still in print, is moving to a digital-only format. Acquiescing to the demands of a digital world, the flagship hardbound collection will cease to be sold once the current stock of about 4,000 sets is gone.
Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. President Jorge Cauz said the changing marketplace for traditional books has led to the move.
"The print edition became more difficult to maintain and wasn't the best physical element to deliver the quality of our database and the quality of our editorial," Cauz told Reuters. "Britannica was one of the first companies to really feel the full impact of technology, maybe 20 years ago, and we have been adapting to it, though it is very difficult at times.”
In lieu of the $1,400 print edition, those wanting access to the encyclopedia can pay a $70 yearly subscription for use of its online database. Additionally, Britannica has launched several mobile-device apps.
The move ends a streak of continuous publication that goes back to the first edition, which was printed in Scotland in 1768.