Mar 13, 2012

The end of an Era [72/365]

Brittanica. The byword when it came to encyclopedias. Atleast in my time. Before Dorling Kindersley and Wikipedia took over.
I've never owned one, simply because I could not afford the entire set, but when I was still deciding on a good thing to gift my nephew and neice, the first thing I thought of buying was the Brittanica. They loved books after all.

Today, Brittanica announced that they will stop printing any more copies of their flagship 32 volume editions after 244 years. (Read the story here)
But the real question is how relevant is the Brittanica in this day when you get your knowledge, fact and counter-opinion from Wikipedia. For free. My school was wealthy enough to have 2 sets of the Brittanica and the dull and deary covers of the book meant that not many of the 7th graders or the 8th graders really 'read' it. DK was far more colorful and exciting.
My Dad gifted me my first DK and I've since bought many versions of the illustrated encyclopedias since.

While the company has promised to continue and strengthen their online editions, this could be little solace. While I won't go to think Brittanica is going to shut their online shop any time soon, I think this was a step in the right direction.
With the sheer amount of facts and wisdom on each of the volume, Brittanica need not worry about a Wikipedia, simply because of the content and the sources of the content are as different as chalk and cheese.

This move is more towards adapting to changing economies and can make the encyclopedia more accessible to people like me who could not afford the $1400 (approx Rs 65000) volume.

More power to wisdom!
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