For 244 years Encyclopedia Britannica published content in print format. Now, as almost everything has become available in digital too, Encyclopedia Britannica announced it will abandon the print and make a full switch to digital.
The truth is that decisions such as that of the managing team behind the Encyclopedia Britannica will become more and more common, as the demand for digital will become ever more important than the print. Plus, there are several factors that make switching to digital a worthwhile decision for many such products.
First of all with a digital format of an encyclopedia it is a lot easier to find everything you need by using the search tab. Besides the storage space on your smartphone, tablet of PC, a digital encyclopedia occupies zero actual living space. Truth be told, newspapers moving their print editions online, ebooks and encyclopedia’s abandoning their print formats are just the beginning of a much bigger change. For now, everybody thinks that the death of the printed books, textbooks and newspapers is a long way to go. But, it might be closer than imagined.
President Jorge Cauz of the Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. was aware that the end of the print was close by, as sales have plummeted over the past few years. Google and Wikipedia, and of course the overall internet have become huge encyclopedia that are cost free and easily accessible.
“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”, said Jorge Cauz.
But Jorge Cauz claims that the decision to drop the print edition wasn’t determined by the competition with Wikipedia or Google. “The sales of printed encyclopedia have been negligible for several years. We knew this was going to come”, explained Cauz.
Based on the data given by the company’s president, it seems 1990 was the most successful year in terms of print sales for Encyclopedia Britannica. It sold 120,000 sets, but from that point on there was an ongoing meltdown. For instance, six years later, in 1996, Encyclopedia Britannica sold only 40,000 sets.
Starting this Tuesday, the content on the Encyclopedia Britannica website is available for free for one week to mark the switch to digital. To subscribe online for the encyclopedia you will have to pay each year about $70.