Encyclopedia Britannica Stops Publication of Printed Version


The Encyclopedia Britannica is the oldest English-language encyclopedia. It was first published in three volumes in Edinburgh in the 18th century. Over time it has grown to 32 volumes, becoming the most complete and comprehensive encyclopedia in the world. The company has now announced that the 2010 edition was to be the last printed one. Encyclopedia Britannica will, in the future, only be available online.

For generations door-to-door salesmen sold thousands of sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica every year. 1990 was the best year for the company but shortly afterwards sales began to drop. Many people started buying computers and received the encyclopedias on the DVDs with them. When Microsoft started releasing its Encarta encyclopedia, often together with new computers, Britannica’s sales went down almost overnight. In the last decade, due to the rising importance of the Internet, users have been turning to online encyclopedias like Wikipedia and other internet sources to get their information.



Today, with a price tag of over $1,300, printed editions are bought only by libraries, schools and a few other institutions. Recently Britannica has been shifting its focus largely to selling schoolbooks and other educational material. The sales of the encyclopedia make up only a small amount of the total income. Currently Britannica has only a few thousand sets left. They will be a collector’s item, as they are the last to be printed.




While Britannica offers its online services to the public for $70 per year, people are accessing the free Wikipedia when it comes to looking up information. A few years ago Britannica started letting users write articles for the online edition, but, in contrast to Wikipedia, editors check and doublecheck the articles to make sure the information is accurate. While Wikipedia information may not always be correct Britannica claims that it is the only reference source that can be fully relied on

The Encyclopedia Britannica is not the only reference book to pass away. In 2009 Microsoft announced that it would no longer release Encarta because it stood no chance against Wikipedia.

The advantages of online encyclopedias are obvious. They can be updated quickly with the latest information or breaking news, while printed reference books lag behind and are out-of-date as soon as they are published. In addition, looking up articles is much easier with the search functions of online editions.



Related Topics


  • access = here: to get information from
  • accurate = correct , exact
  • advantages = good sides
  • amount = sum
  • announce = to say officially
  • available = on hand, to be had
  • breaking news = things that are happening at the moment
  • century = a hundred years
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • comprehensive = complete
  • currently = at the moment
  • decade = ten years
  • door-to-door = salespeople visit each house in a neighborhood and usually want to sell something
  • double check = to check again
  • due to = because of
  • edition = copies of a book that are printed at the same time
  • encyclopedia = a book, CD or DVD that has facts and information about very many different subjects
  • focus = center of interest
  • importance = meaning ,value
  • in addition = also
  • in contrast to = as compared with
  • income = the money that you get when you do or sell something
  • item = object
  • lag = to be slow
  • library = room or building that has many books which can be read or borrowed
  • obvious = clear
  • pass away = here: die
  • price tag = how much something costs
  • print = to produce a paper copy
  • public = all the people
  • publish = print
  • receive = get
  • recently = lately, a short time ago
  • reference = book or article from which you get facts about something
  • release = to give to the public
  • sales = the selling of …
  • set = all the volumes that belong to one edition
  • shift = change
  • source = here: place
  • update = modernize, to bring up to date
  • volume = a book that is a part of a whole set