Thursday, March 29, 2012

Encyclopedia Britannica switches from print to online version after 200+ years

The latest victim to fall at the hands of modern technology is that long-time staple of many households, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but don’t shed too many tears because 244 years is a pretty good run. Considering that a ton of information is just a Google search away, I’m kind of surprised the books have lasted this long.

Instead of resisting change, Encyclopaedia Britannica is going with the flow and adapting to the times. While the actual books will no longer be printed, all the information they contain will be made available online. Actually, they made the switch a while back but kept the print version going as well. I guess they wanted to cover all the bases, just in case the whole concept of online research was a passing fad.

I don’t know about you, but the Encyclopaedia Britannica collection was a normal part of the home library when I was growing up. I even vaguely remember a few door-to-door salesmen showing up to try and get us to upgrade to their newest editions.

It’s a little sad to see the books go but I’m glad the company had the wisdom to transform for the 21st century instead of resisting change, which would’ve probably doomed the company completely.

What do you think about the switch to digital? Think any other familiar items will be leaving the physical world to take up residence strictly online? Personally, I envision a future (that’s not too distant) where dictionaries, almanacs, and atlas’ all exist on the web, with no RL counterpart to take up space on bookshelves. It’s exciting but a little sad, too. I love eBooks and eReaders, but nothing that beats thumbing through an actual book.