244 years after the very first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica went into print, it was announced today that it will no longer happen. In the age of Wikipedia, Britannica had a hard time keeping up when there is a constant need for “instant gratification.” The books, which are priced at $1,395 for the 20101 edition, have been a point of pride for middle class families for years, but with times getting tough, they felt they couldn’t keep up.
So Britannica has decided to focus on the online edition. They currently have 500,000 paid subscribers at $70 a month. “It’s a rite of passage in this new era,” Jorge Cauz, the president of Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. said in an interview. “Some people will feel sad about it and nostalgic about it. But we have a better tool now. The Web site is continuously updated, it’s much more expansive and it has multimedia.”
Mr. Cauz said that he believed Britannica’s competitive advantage with Wikipedia came from its prestigious sources, its carefully edited entries and the trust that was tied to the brand. “We have very different value propositions,” Mr. Cauz said. “Britannica is going to be smaller. We cannot deal with every single cartoon character, we cannot deal with every love life of every celebrity. But we need to have an alternative where facts really matter. Britannica won’t be able to be as large, but it will always be factually correct.”
Anyone out there who’s too young to know what Encyclopaedia Britannica was, I’d suggest you look it up on Wikipedia.
But I’d bet a lot of money that most people would rather use Britannica than Wikipedia.”