Encyclopaedia Britannica to stop publishing after 244 years

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

After a 244-year span in print, the Encyclopædia Britannica will discontinue its published volumes.

The title page of the Encyclopædia Britannica, first edition. (1771).
Image: A Society of Gentlemen in Scotland.

With less than 1% of revenue coming from print versions, Jorge Cauz, Britannica's president, indicates there simply is not sufficient demand for the print publication. In the last 11 years demand has plummeted due to competition from Wikipedia and Britannica's own digital version.

With a $1,395 price tag for the print version, many people have switched to the online version of Britannica or free sources such as Wikipedia. Critics of Britannica are often quick to point out that Wikipedia is regularly updated by tens of thousands of users on a wider range of topics. Britannica remains confident that their customers will appreciate their style of articles and the expert contributors.

Britannica peaked in sales in 1990 with 120,000 sets sold. The 2010 edition will be the last in print and has sold 8,000 sets to date; with 4,000 sets remaining.