Encyclopaedia Britannica Switches to Internet-Only

Posted March 14th, 2012 at 4:20 am (UTC-5)
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Encyclopaedia Britannica, the world's oldest English language encyclopedia, says it is switching its publishing focus exclusively to the Internet.

The Chicago-based company issued a statement Tuesday that it is ending its print edition of the famed reference guide, 244 years after it was first published in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Encyclopaedia Britannica became a growing fixture in American homes in the years after World War Two, despite a price tag well over $1,300. Sales of the gilded 32-volume hardcover peaked at 120,000 sets in 1990, and have been falling with the emergence of the Internet and the growing popularity of free online rival Wikipedia.

Jorge Cauz, Britannica's president, says the end of the printed sets was something they had anticipated for some time.

Britannica has been flirting with digital publishing since the 1970s, with its first digital version offered in 1981 for users of the legal research service LexisNexis. It published its first multi-media CD in 1989, and went online in 1994.

The online version of the Encyclopaedia will be offered for just $70 for an annual subscription.