Wikipedia Finally Kills Off Printed Encyclopedia

Author: Adi Gaskell
Published: March 14, 2012 at 11:01 am

rise of wikipediaWhen Wikipedia launched in 2001, it seemed inconceivable that it could ever replace the bastions of knowledge curation such as Enclopedia Britannica.  After all, Britannica has been around for nearly 250 years, and relies upon trusted experts for their content.

So the news announced this week that Britannica will be ceasing their print publication acts as a glowing testament to how Wikipedia has revolutionized how we collect and distribute knowledge.

Britannica, which has been in print since 1768, announced that from now on they will only publish their encyclopedia in digital form.

The announcement marks the end of a significant decline in the market for printed encyclopedias.  The company announced that 1990 was their peak year, with sales of 120,000.  By 1996, however, the decline was evident, with just 40,000 copies being bought.

Jorge Cauz, president of the company, revealed how difficult it was to maintain the print edition with such rapidly falling sales.  "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" he said.

He went on to admit that the road to profitability in the wake of competition from Wikipedia would be a long one.  "Britannica was one of the first companies to really feel the full impact of technology, maybe 20 years ago, and we have been adapting to it, though it is very difficult at times," he said.

Those interested in the final hardcover edition of Britannica can buy it at the company’s website for $1,395.


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Article Author: Adi Gaskell

A writer on management issues for publications such as Professional Manager, CMI, HRM Today, Business Works and Technorati. I also cover social media for Social Media Today, DZone and Social Business News.

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