Encyclopedia Britannica, a reference book in homes and libraries worldwide, will stop publishing the print edition for the first time in 244 years and shift focus to digital versions.
The book-form of the encyclopedia first hit the print in Scotland in 1768 and will stop being available after the current stocks run out, the Chicago based company announced.
The last edition of the 32-volume encyclopedia will be the 2010 one and the company said it will keep selling print editions until the current stock of around 4000 sets runs out.
“The announcement that we will no longer print the 32-volume encyclopedia is of great significance, not for what it says about our past, but for what it projects about our vibrant present and future as a digital provider of general knowledge and instructional services,” the company’s president Jorge Cauz said in a blog post titled Looking Ahead.
But whatever be the fate of printed Encyclopedia Britannica, it has already made history with thousands of contributors including Nobel laureates and world leaders like President Bill Clinton.
The end of the printed version was foreseen and the printers said they were seeking to keep its relevance in a digital market place that is increasingly dominated by e-books and tablets.
For Encyclopedia Britannica, the sales worldwide climaxed in 1990 when over 120,000 sets were sold, but sales fell to just 40,000 six years later. The final hardcover version on the shelf is priced at USD 1395.