The world’s oldest English-language encyclopaedia is going out of print. Encyclopaedia Britannica has been published in heavy volumes for the last 244 years, but from now on it will be exclusively available over the Internet and through mobile apps.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica was founded in Edinburgh in 1768, and has since published some 3.7 trillion words, becoming the highest standard of reference works of the English-speaking world. Income peaked at 120,000 sets in 1990, but the digital era led to a protracted decline in sales, which bottomed out at 8,000 copies of the 2010 edition, the last to be printed.
“This has nothing to do with Wikipedia or Google,” Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc president Jorge Cauz said. “This has to do with the fact that now Britannica sells its digital products to a large number of people.” Britannica Online, which launched in 1994, was the first encyclopaedia on the Internet, and the company says that the online versions now serve more than 100 million people around the world.
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