Thursday, 15 March 2012

...The Encyclopedia Britanica is No More.

Another sad day for print. I'm pretty old fashioned when it comes to print. There's something about reading an actual book, magazine, newspaper, or comic book. Maybe it's the smell a new book has or the specific smell a National Geographic holds (I'm serious about that one. A friend told me NG has a certain smell to it than any other magazine, and its true), or the sound of newspaper being folded, or the feeling of turning a page when things get exciting and almost ripping the page in the process. Running your finger across a touch screen just doesn't have the same feel.


So it saddens me to say that I learned the 2010 edition of the Encyclopedia Britanica will be the last printed edition. From now on it will only be available on disc or online. But I get it. I haven't looked inside a volume, I haven't ever purchased a set, and/or used one in the library since computers started showing up in classrooms. In fact, I'm a little surprised the print version has lasted this long. And I'm sure we all know why its ending.

Damn you!

A new edition of The Encyclopedia Britanica is published every two years or so. The company has no difficulty finding contributors. People are knocking down the door for a chance wanting to put their exerience on their resume. They dominated the encyclopedia market for a little over 100 years. Sales peaked at $650 million during the early 90s and slowly declined since. In the mid-80s a new compnay called Microsoft wanted to partner with Britanica to produce a CD-ROM version of their text. Britanica balked saying the idea of a CD-Rom was a children's toy and their sales people would stand for selling them. Microsoft moved down the ranks of other encyclopedia companies and found a partner wth a nearly bankrupt Funk & Wagnalls (I think I had an edition of theirs as a kid). They released Encarta soon after and it became a hit.

So rad!
Britanica, realizing a CD-ROM might have a place in the market after all, decided to produce their own CD. They offered it for free along with a purchase of the print version, but if you only wanted the CD-ROM by itself, it only set you back a mere $1200. There were problems with the Britanica's sales force as well. The sales reps were trained in how to use the CD-ROM but when they showed up to the customer's house, they didn't know how to operate their computers. Once the internet came along, both Encarta and Britanica were defeated.

Did Britanica make any mistakes? I'd argue no. The cancelation of their print edition was inevitable. It would have happened regardless. Upon hearing the news I chceked into buying a 2010 set. I'm afraid I don't have the $1400 ($1330 yah!) for a set. No one even has a set on eBay yet, but I have a feeling prices for it just skyrocketed.

Looks like its just you and me kid.

And that is what I learned today.

-The Iditarod race has only been run for 40 years (thought it was more)
-Why chocolate is bad for dogs

No comments:

Post a Comment