Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, with B...

Encyclopedia Britannica Announces Final Print Edition

Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, with B...
This picture of the Encyclopedia Britannica came from Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia.

After almost 250 years of printing massive collections of fact-filled books, the folks at Encyclopedia Britannica are embracing green technology. The 2010 edition of the iconic volumes will be the last in print. From now on, they’ll only be published electronically. It’s a bow to progress that was inevitable, if sad for some book lovers.

As the physical volumes were expensive, and had to be replaced every few years in order to stay relevant, shifting to green technology is one of the smartest moves Britannica could make. As Britannica president Jorge Cauz points out, “Updating dozens of books every two years now seems so pedestrian.”

For years, the internet has posed a threat to shelved encyclopedias–which are staying shelved more often. While older generations may still look to physical volumes for research, younger generations have come to rely on the internet’s endless supply of free information. They can access it in only a few clicks without paying a dime, and it’s green technology with a low environmental impact. That’s not changing any time soon.

Wikipedia, in particular, is big competition, but Cauz isn’t overly concerned. According to him, Wikipedia is great “for collecting everything from insights to lies and innuendos . . . It’s the murmur of society, a million voices rather than a single informed one.”

This, he believes, is why many people will be willing to pay for a $70 yearly subscription or $1.99 monthly app. While the internet is excellent green technology where anyone can post any information they like, there’s still a place in society for educated experts.

Cauz is confident about the switch to green technology. It’s actually been underway for years, and the company’s main source of revenue is now online learning tools and other products, rather than the physical books.

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