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Tuesday
Mar132012

Encyclopaedia Britannica Kills Its Print Edition

Photos.com/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The first Encyclopaedia Britannica was printed in 1768. And now, 244 years later, it has been printed for the last time -- at least as a set of bound books.

Its publisher has announced that it will no longer be publishing the print version, and will stop selling it when current stock runs out. It will continue to publish a digital version, which can be accessed on its website and through its iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch apps. The digital option costs $70 a year, while the last printed version cost $1,400.

Britannica has printed a new version of the reference books every two years; the 2010 32-volume set will be the last.

“This is a decision we have been contemplating for a few years. We decided to break the news now as it was time to release a new printed version,” Jorge Cauz, the president of Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., told ABC News.

Over 7 million sets of the bound books have been sold since 1768. Twelve thousand copies of the last set were printed, although 4,000 still remain in inventory. Britannica expects those remaining books to sell quickly.

The end of the bound encyclopedias, which lined many bookshelves for years, is certainly a sign of the times. As services like Wikipedia gain steam, the idea of using a book to look up the history of, say, a presidential candidate seems rather quaint.

Still, Cauz said the Britannica brand is strong in the digital space, but the focus goes beyond encyclopedia content. “Eighty-five percent of our revenue comes from non-encyclopedia content -- mostly from instructional and e-learning solutions,” he said. The company works with schools to provide its learning tools.

But of course, Wikipedia has taken over a large chunk of the digital encyclopedia market. “We have a very different offering than Wikipedia; our content is mostly created by experts and editors,” Cauz said. ”I understand Wikipedia has won the popularity contest, and Google loves Wikipedia in regard to search. We need to do something so we can be more prominent.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jan172011

Wikipedia Marks 10 Years, Opens First Office in India

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- In 2001, Jimmy Wales wrote "hello world," in his first of many edits to an online encyclopedia site. And 10 years later, the world has said a big hello back. This weekend, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia marked its 10th birthday and on Monday the San Francisco-based site opened its first overseas office in India.

Wikipedia is the fifth most-visited website, claiming over 400 million unique visits per month. More than 13.5 million registered users have contributed a staggering 438,660,528 edits in the last decade. The site's 3.5 million articles are primarily maintained by 15,000 reliable editors who contribute at least 100 times per month.

Editors are unpaid volunteers; the site takes no advertising and is operated by the non-profit Wikimedia. The site operated on $8 million in 2010 and raised over $16 million in its most recent fundraising campaign.

Over the last decade, the site has not been without financial woes and Wales often writes personal letters for donations on the homepage to the Wikipedia community.

Currently, the free website is available in over 270 languages and the new Bangalore office hopes to add at least 20 additional Indian languages.

In an interview with The Press Trust of India, Sue Gardner, chief of Wikimedia, said India was chosen because its "fruitful environment [including] valuing education, free speech and a culture of intellectual debate."

Gardner added that Wikipedia plans to make a push in Brazil, then to the Middle East and Africa to reach editors from different backgrounds.

The average Wikipedia user in 2011 is an educated, 20-something male, but Gardner expects that profile will look much different in 2021.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio