Encyclopaedia Britannica ditches print edition in favour of digital

The world of publishing is being inexorably drawn towards the digital medium. Kindle devices are selling like the blazes (or indeed the Fire).

Authors are now finding self-publishing on platforms such as Amazon's e-book store a viable route to a best-seller, and major book publishing companies are worrying about who's in control of where the industry is headed.

So it's no real surprise, then, that the Encyclopaedia Britannica has waved the white flag when it comes to the print edition which was first published way back in 1768. Once current stocks of the shelf-worrying 32 volume set of books are sold out, there won't be any more emerging.

A sign of the times indeed, but the organisation is putting a positive spin on the matter. According to an article on the Britannica blog, this isn't about the demise of the print Encyclopaedia Britannica, but the rise of the digital version.

Some might see the move as an "unwelcomed goodbye to a dear, reliable, and trustworthy friend", notes Jorge Cauz, President of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but the organisation is pushing forward with the 100 million users of the Britannia.com website and related apps.

Cauz said: "By concentrating our efforts on our digital properties, we can continuously update our content and further expand the number of topics and the depth with which they are treated without the space constraints of the print set. In fact, today our digital database is much larger than what we can fit in the print set. And it is up to date because we can revise it within minutes anytime we need to, and we do it many times each day.

There is, of course, another advantage of the digital version of the encyclopaedia: That there'll be far less collapsed IKEA bookshelves up and down the country.