Encyclopaedia Britannica goes digital only after 244 years in print

Longstanding research tool and publishing landmark brought to an end as online rules

The Encyclopaedia Britannica has been printed for the final time with the publication's parent company revealing it will now focus on online efforts

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. announced earlier today its latest move in the evolution of digital education and information bringing to an end 244 years of history and revealing it will no longer publish printed editions of its 32-volume tomes.

“The end of the print set is something we’ve foreseen for some time,” the president of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. Jorge Cauz said. “It’s the latest step in our evolution from the print publisher we were, to the creator of digital learning products we are today.”

The Encyclopaedia Britannica has been primarily an online product for 20 years and has been continually updated and diversified to suit varying audiences and age ranges. The digital edition is, in fact, significantly larger than the printed edition ever was, reaching over 100 million people worldwide and with the recent launch of the new app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, the popularity of the encyclopaedia and its audience figures could rise dramatically.

Alongside the move to an exclusively online product, the firm is driving forward with the development of online community features. This allows readers to make changes to the encyclopaedia following further review and editing if necessary, for example and highlights the company’s awareness of the growing standing of social media.

“We’re digital, we’re mobile, and we’re social,” said Cauz. “We’re a very different company from 20 or 30 years ago.”

Despite the positive attitude to the move, the company has highlighted that, although many things have recently changed, the dedication to accurate and up-to-date information remains at the forefront of its efforts and with a network of thousands of contributors and a team of more than 100 editors keeping the Encyclopaedia a comprehensive and reliable product.

To mark the discontinuation of the print set, the contents of the Encyclopaedia Britannica will be made free for one week starting today.