Britannica runs an update

Hours after Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. announced it will stop publishing print editions of its flagship encyclopaedia for the first time in more than 200 years, someone among the editing minions of free online rival Wikipedia made an irony-free note of that fact.

“It was announced that after 244 years, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print, instead focusing on its online encyclopedia,” the entry read.

The book-form of Encyclopaedia Britannica has been in print since it was first published in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1768. It will stop being available when the current stock runs out, said the company. The Chicago-based company would continue to offer digital versions.

Officials said the end of the printed, 32-volume set has been foreseen for some time. “This has nothing to do with Wikipedia or Google,” said Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. President Jorge Cauz. “This has to do with the fact that now Britannica sells its digital products to a large number of people.”

The top year for the printed encyclopaedia was 1990, when 120,000 sets were sold, Mr. Cauz said. That number fell to 40,000 just six years later in 1996, he said. The company started exploring digital publishing in the 1970s. The first CD-ROM edition was published in 1989 and a version went online in 1994. The final hardcover encyclopaedia set is available for sale at Britannica's website for $1,395. The company plans to mark the end of the print version by making the contents of its website available free for one week, starting Tuesday. — AP

To stop its print editions after more than 200 years.

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