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Encyclopedia Britannica abandons print

Thursday, 15 March 2012
By Print21

After 244 years in continuous print, Encyclopedia Britannica has decided to abandon the hard-copy medium to focus solely on its digital and online offerings, which have become increasingly popular over the two decades.

Hailing the end of an era, the Chicago-based publisher announced this week that it will not undertake any further print runs of its 32-volume set once its current stocks have been depleted.

While the decision to abandon the print form of the publication may come as a shock to many, the company says it has been in motion for years. In fact, the company has been embracing the digital revolution for over two decades, with the creation of the first digital edition of its world-renowned title in 1981, when it became one of the first digital encyclopedias in the world.

Since then, the company has not shied away from the digital form, publishing the first multimedia encyclopedia CD-ROM in 1989 and the first encyclopedia on the internet in 1994.

“The end of the print set is something we’ve foreseen for some time,” says Encyclopaedia Britannica’s president, Jorge Cauz. “It’s the latest step in our evolution from the print publisher we were, to the creator of digital learning products we are today.”

With the abandonment of its print edition, the company says it will work to expand beyond reference and into the lucrative school curriculum and digital-learning markets, a move that many other educational book publishers have had to make to remain profitable.

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