The Encyclopaedia Britannica will no longer be available in printed form, the company behind the 244-year-old encyclopaedia has said.
Once current stock of the 32-volume printed edition has run out, the resource will only be available as a digital product, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc said on Tuesday. This includes the online version that has been available since 1994, and a set of iOS apps for the iPhone and iPad.
Encyclopaedia Britannica has abandoned print for digital editions, such as its iPhone and iPad apps. Image credit: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc
"The end of the print set is something we've foreseen for some time," Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc president Jorge Cauz said in a statement. "It's the latest step in our evolution from the print publisher we were, to the creator of digital learning products we are today."
The first edition of the encyclopaedia was published in Edinburgh in 1768. LexisNexis users got the first digital edition in 1981 and a CD-ROM version came out for the first time in 1989.
"By concentrating our efforts on our digital properties, we can continuously update our content and further expand the number of topics and the depth with which they are treated without the space constraints of the print set," Cauz said in a separate blog post.
According to Cauz, the continuously-updated online versions have more than 100 million users, and the company is "moving vigorously in developing community features for its online users".
Wikipedians will recognise some of the community process, which involves readers making revisions to the text — however, the Britannica.com process involves editors looking at those revisions before they go live.
Unlike Wikipedia, users have to pay to access the full functionality of Britannica.com. To mark the wholesale switch to digital, though, that functionality is available for free over the next week.