Encyclopaedia Britannica ends sale of print edition

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by obeygiant, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. obeygiant macrumors 68040


    Jan 14, 2002
    totally cool

    We had a whole set when I was a kid. Leather binding and pages very thin like a bible. I remember using them quite often for school work.
  2. xboxer75010 macrumors 6502


    Oct 6, 2006
    Carrollton, TX
    Same here had a set when I was a kid, but haven't cracked open one of these in the last 10yrs, with the internet it just doesn't make sense.

    Now if they would only stop printing phone books. Just received a new set this week and when straight into the recycling.
  3. Peace macrumors Core


    Apr 1, 2005
    Space--The ONLY Frontier
    Wow. This marks the end of an era. For sure.

    I grew up with this.
  4. juanm macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2006
    Fury 161
    It's weird. When I grew up I spent countless hours reading an old two volume encyclopaedia we had laying around. It was so old, It didn't even mention Adolf Hitler or many other events we now consider an essential part of history. I loved the look of the engravings and the leather binding. It's still around somewhere, and almost a century old now...

    I wonder what kind of similar childhood memories will have all the kids born now.
  5. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    As did I.

    I know what you mean; it is fascinating to look back over an old encyclopaedia and to see what was considered of vital importance at that time.

    While I understand the argument about progress, and how businesses must adapt and change with changing times, I must say that I was sorry when I read this. End of an era, and all that.

    Re phone books, I still find them useful and a handy treasure trove of information; not everything is on the net.
  6. rhett7660 macrumors G4


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    I loved our set. The leather binding, looking at all the color pictures. They were great. Spent hours going through them.

    Between them and the Time Life books.......
  7. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Midlife, Midwest
    Definitely a bittersweet moment.

    On the one hand, I'm surprised that Encylopædia Britannica held on as long as it did. Who, in their right mind, would pay a couple thousand dollars for a set of books when a) it would be out of date by next week and b) wikipedia exists.

    On the other, I'll always be a sucker for the printed word. "Facts" are changeable things, and on a computer screen it is all to easy to edit, change, or obliterate those that - in hindsight - prove to have been mistaken. And a printed book provides an invaluable historical record, in a way that no online document possibly can.

    Many, many years ago, my family rented a small beach house from a family we knew. One rainy afternoon my brother and I were poking through the dusty bookshelves and came across a one-volume encyclopedia dating from 1908 (at the time making it about seventy years old.)

    It was fascinating. To read a book that was written before the horrors of two world wars and the holocaust. At a time when the sun never set on the British Empire. Before television, or talking movies. Before antibiotics.

    I remember two things particularly well: An article on this amazing new Navy ship called HMS Dreadnought which was going to make war all but impossible. And the other was the unbelievably casual racism of the terms used to describe African, Asian, and Indian people.

    The "facts" that book contained proved ultimately to be wrong. But it was an indelible record of the way people actually thought back then. And I think that the passing of the printed Britannica is one way we are depriving our descendants of a view of the way (probably wrong about a lot of things) we see things today.
  8. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
  9. Shrink macrumors G3


    Feb 26, 2011
    New England, USA
    I know it makes economic sense. I know it makes sense in terms of convenient access. It's even ecologically sensible - a lot of trees are breathing a sigh of relief.

    Still and all...it's kind of sad for those of us old enough to have grown up with the EB as a wonderful, at-home reference source. A lot of good learning from that now antiquated resource modality.:(
  10. localoid macrumors 68020


    Feb 20, 2007
    America's Third World
    Does it make ecological sense? Trees are a renewable resource. But a digital encyclopedia is powered by electricity, most likely (in the US, at least) produced from a nonrenewable source.

    Within the US, chances are about 50/50 that your digital encyclopedia is running on coal. Which is a dirtier? Paper production + printing _or_ coal production + coal power generation + CD pressing? Someone should crunch the numbers...
  11. eawmp1 macrumors 601


    Feb 19, 2008
    Even in this digital era I was contemplating buying a used set at our library's used book sale. I too remember my grandparents had a set I would pick up and thumb through, stopping at entries that caught my eye or imagination. The pre-internet "surfing". Probably contributed a lot to my knowledge base without me even knowing it at the time.

    R.I.P. printed encyclopedia
  12. Shrink macrumors G3


    Feb 26, 2011
    New England, USA
    Good point.:D

    I'm much too dumb to crunch the numbers. I'm sure there is someone here who can do it, if they want to take the time.
  13. thewitt macrumors 68020


    Sep 13, 2011
    Please save the world and turn off all your computers today. Permanently.....

    To even propose that books, made from trees processed from stump to bound book with oil, gas, electricity and bleaching chemicals - oh and printed with ink made from oil - could possibly be more environmentally friendly than a digital book is ludicrous.
  14. senseless macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2008
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Very old encylopedias and science books are fascinating to read. I've seen a few on google books.
  15. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    I don't know how you'd calculate that so readily. Once you own the paper edition, you're not consuming anything any more. OTOH each time over the lifetime of the encyclopaedia that you read the digital book you're using power.

    I guess a lot depends on how much you use the encyclopaedia, and how cleanly your electricity is generated.

    Plus, most people hang on to the paper editions of encyclopaedias for many years (my parents have a set that's well over 30 years old); whereas the digital devices are often replaced every 2-3 years, along with their batteries which tend not to be very ecologically friendly.
  16. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    I grew up in the era giving me the best of all words.

    In elementary school, print encyclopedias were what we used. In middle school, they had moved on to the CD based versions. In high school research moved to online. And in college, research was done on Wikipedia, using the sources on Wiki as the sources on my paper :D

    Sure, Wikipedia is damn convenient since all the work is pretty much done for you (and it's probably dumbing down the youth), but there's something I miss about going to the library and getting the different editions of each encyclopedia to scour up all the information I could.
  17. mscriv macrumors 601


    Aug 14, 2008
    Dallas, Texas
    I grew up with the World Book Encyclopedia in our home. I used the Britannica at school. My wife and I often joke about how the generations that came after us will never know the joy of researching in a musty old encyclopedia.
  18. SlugBlanket macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2011
    I bought a full set back in 1988, thinking that my kids might enjoy them as I did when I was a child. My first child didn't come along until 2002 by which time I had put them up in the loft. They are still there. My wife likes to remind occasionally by sniggering, "What ever happened to Encarta"? closely followed by "Didn't you used to have some old-fashioned, obsolete kind of encyclopaedia"?

    I'm going to remove one of the volumes from the loft so that when she does this next time, I can throw it at her :)
  19. eric/ Guest


    Sep 19, 2011
    Ohio, United States
    Removing trees probably has a larger ecological impact, since they remove pollutants from the atmosphere and produce oxygen while providing a natural habitat for animals.

    Coal insist "dirty", but we also don't currently have feasible energy alternatives.
  20. zachlegomaniac macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2008
    There is something to be said about the tactility of a book and the way it appeals to the other senses, too. I read some things on my computer, phone, iPad, but I will die with a hardcover copy of Leaves of Grass in my arms (if a piano doesn't fall on my head:eek:).
  21. Carlanga macrumors 604


    Nov 5, 2009
    "We are a very different type of knowledge base, one that is by the nature of what we do, significantly smaller than Wikipedia -- but much more reliable," he told FoxNews.com. "Right now everyone knows Google loves Wikipedia. 96 percent of the time its in the top five [search results]. It’s a pity that Britannica can’t take that position too.”

    Ridiculous & Jeulosy... Wikipedia has less errors than any other encyclopedia around.

    To mark the retirement of print, the entire britannica.com site will be available for free until March 21.

    Should be free forever if they really want to beat Wikipedia

    “There’s a place for well-written documents, where facts really matter, where we strive for balance," Zauz told FoxNews.com. "And the alternative is just …. different.”

    Wikipedia is as good or better w/ facts; If they really wanted to talk they should have gone to a balanced news site, not fox news :rolleyes:

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