Encyclopaedia Britannica Goes Digital

Encyclopaedia Britannica
This undated product image provided by Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. shows volumes of the company’s encyclopedia. Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 said that it will stop publishing print editions of its flagship encyclopedia for the first time since the sets were originally published more than 200 years ago. (AP Photo/Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.)
Encyclopaedia Britannica
(AP Photo/Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.)

The oldest English language encyclopedia still in print is officially going digital.

Encyclopaedia Britannica announced today that it will end publication of the 32-volume printed edition of its flagship encyclopedia and continue with digital versions instead.

That’s right, you won’t be able to find a hard copy of the famous reference book soon.  When the current stock runs out, it will be the first time in 244 years that the encyclopedia won’t be available in book form.

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

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, it was originally published in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1768 and has been in print continuously ever since. Over the years, it’s evolved to take on the digital world.

In the 1970s the company created the first digital version of the Britannica and published the first multimedia encyclopedia on CD-ROM in 1989 and the first encyclopedia on the Internet in 1994. Since becoming available online, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the digital versions serve more than 100 million people worldwide.

Recently, a new app that delivers the whole encyclopedia to the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch was launched.

“To mark the retirement of the print set, the entire contents of the Britannica.com website will be available free for one week beginning today,” Encyclopaedia Britannica said in a press release.

And if you would like to snag the final edition, the 2010 print set is being sold at The Britannica Store for $1,395.