Stopping the presses: Britannica to stop printing books

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Stopping the presses: Britannica to stop printing books

metasj
2010's 32-volume set will be its last.  (Now I want to get one, to
replace my old set!)  Future versions will be digital only.

http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/after-244-years-encyclopaedia-britannica-stops-the-presses/?smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/mar/13/encyclopedia-britannica-halts-print-publication

Britannica president Jorge Cauz notes that their revenue from the
online encyclopedia was already 15x that of the print version -- 15%
of their total, compared to 1%.  Most of their revenue for years has
come from other targeted educational materials.  As he says in the
Guardian,

"Today our digital database is much larger than what we can fit in the
print set. And it is up to date because we can revise it within
minutes anytime we need to, and we do it many times each day."

SJ.

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Re: Stopping the presses: Britannica to stop printing books

Emilio J. Rodríguez-Posada
2012/3/13 Samuel Klein <[hidden email]>

> "Today our digital database is much larger than what we can fit in the
> print set. And it is up to date because we can revise it within
> minutes anytime we need to, and we do it many times each day."
>
>
Wow, they update the encyclopedia many times each day.
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Re: Stopping the presses: Britannica to stop printing books

phoebe ayers-3
In reply to this post by metasj
On Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 3:49 PM, Samuel Klein <[hidden email]> wrote:
> 2010's 32-volume set will be its last.  (Now I want to get one, to
> replace my old set!)  Future versions will be digital only.
>
> http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/after-244-years-encyclopaedia-britannica-stops-the-presses/?smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto
> http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/mar/13/encyclopedia-britannica-halts-print-publication
>

I don't use it in print, haven't for years, and have been expecting
something like this for a while, but am still surprisingly saddened by
it too; there's something about the shelf of volumes that encapsulates
the world's knowledge that sort of symbolizes the whole idea of a
library to me.

I've been asked to write a short editorial about this development from
a Wikipedian's perspective and am curious about (and would love to
include) other Wikimedian experiences -- did you use print
encyclopedias as a kid? Was a love of print encyclopedias part of your
motivation or interest in becoming a Wikipedian? Is there any value in
them still? Will you miss it?

cheers,
-- phoebe

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Re: Stopping the presses: Britannica to stop printing books

cro0016
On 14/03/2012, at 11:22 AM, phoebe ayers <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> I've been asked to write a short editorial about this development from
> a Wikipedian's perspective and am curious about (and would love to
> include) other Wikimedian experiences -- did you use print
> encyclopedias as a kid? Was a love of print encyclopedias part of your
> motivation or interest in becoming a Wikipedian? Is there any value in
> them still? Will you miss it?
>

I remember the print encyclopedias on the shelf as a kid. I thought they were great, there was so much information on them. And then there was Encarta '97 on disc, with games and searchable content. Yes, search! I became a Wikipedian because I learned so much from it, and wanted to help out. But I'll never forget the trusty old encyclopedias.

Steven Zhang
Sent from my iPad
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Re: Stopping the presses: Britannica to stop printing books

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by phoebe ayers-3
On 03/13/12 5:22 PM, phoebe ayers wrote:

> On Tue, Mar 13, 2012 at 3:49 PM, Samuel Klein<[hidden email]>  wrote:
>> 2010's 32-volume set will be its last.  (Now I want to get one, to
>> replace my old set!)  Future versions will be digital only.
> I don't use it in print, haven't for years, and have been expecting
> something like this for a while, but am still surprisingly saddened by
> it too; there's something about the shelf of volumes that encapsulates
> the world's knowledge that sort of symbolizes the whole idea of a
> library to me.
>
> I've been asked to write a short editorial about this development from
> a Wikipedian's perspective and am curious about (and would love to
> include) other Wikimedian experiences -- did you use print
> encyclopedias as a kid? Was a love of print encyclopedias part of your
> motivation or interest in becoming a Wikipedian? Is there any value in
> them still? Will you miss it?
>
> cheers,
> -- phoebe
>

I've always been a bookish person, even growing up in an environment
where books were not featured. I do remember having a two-volume
(perhaps the Columbia-Viking) when I was young, and still in primary
school.  I cherished it, and looked up a lot of different things in it.

I don't think that my love of encyclopedias was a factor in becoming a
Wikipedian.  I think it was mostly a feeling that with all the books
that I had already accumulated by 2002 I would be able to contribute
something.  It was much easier to contribute then. It was fun.

I now have maybe a dozen encyclopedias, all acquired since 2002. My
latest such addition was 7 volumes from the first American edition of
The Edinburgh Encyclopædia from 1832.  These older volumes remain
important because of the depth they give to knowledge.  Fully grasping a
subject includes grasping its evolution unencumbered by the static
snapshot verified in Wikipedia.  This is much as described in the
opening paragraphs of Thomas Mann's "Joseph and His Brothers". What
these older volumes say will often be obsolete, and sometimes absurd,
but that information remains a part of a subject's history. They include
the mistakes which enable us to measure our success.

The extent to which Wikipedia has burrowed into the modern psyche
carries a responsibility that is both awesome and awful. Britannica,
with all the faults we have acknowledged and through a couple
bankruptcies, remained the prima facie source of information for 10
English-speaking generations. We have unseated them, and not only in
English.

Ray

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Re: Stopping the presses: Britannica to stop printing books

Tom Morris-5
In reply to this post by phoebe ayers-3
On 14 March 2012 00:22, phoebe ayers <[hidden email]> wrote:

> I don't use it in print, haven't for years, and have been expecting
> something like this for a while, but am still surprisingly saddened by
> it too; there's something about the shelf of volumes that encapsulates
> the world's knowledge that sort of symbolizes the whole idea of a
> library to me.
>
> I've been asked to write a short editorial about this development from
> a Wikipedian's perspective and am curious about (and would love to
> include) other Wikimedian experiences -- did you use print
> encyclopedias as a kid? Was a love of print encyclopedias part of your
> motivation or interest in becoming a Wikipedian? Is there any value in
> them still? Will you miss it?
>

Anecdotal data point: as a kid, I was a reference book nut, although
never had a decent encyclopedia. My parents bought me a copy of the
Guinness encyclopedia, a colourful one-volume title. 'Twas amazing,
but very stubby. Philosophy got all of four pages, as did
Christianity, the death penalty got half a page, and human rights got
a whole page. 20th century theatre got a whole two pages, and 20th
century cinema got the next two pages.

The best bit was the scientific diagrams: really detailed, colourful
drawings of car engines and different types of nuclear reactor.

Thematic organisation was definitely one of the benefits of the
encyclopedia: it started with 'The Universe' and described cosmology
and the Big Bang and stars, and then moved on to the Earth and geology
and volcanoes, and then trotted onto biology and medicine, detouring
into economics, sociology and law, then onto engineering, then to
religion and philosophy, then finally the arts: visual, musical and
theatrical.

I still keep it near my desk, but I have to admit, I usually grab my
laptop or smartphone and go to Wikipedia or Wiktionary (even though my
local library gives me Britannica access, and my university library
gives me OED access - all the logging-in faff isn't worth it).

--
Tom Morris
<http://tommorris.org/>

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