USA reported on 3/14 that Encyclopedia Britannica will no longer be printing their 32-volume set of hardbound books. When I first read this I was devastated. The loss of the physical book is happening before our very eyes! I am, in the meantime, an avid electronic book reader, but still some how mourn the loss of such an important part of my young school years. Remember when you had a report due on the largest land mammal and you could simply open up the encyclopedia and get all the answers and info you needed from one place? And it was a trusted source without question.

Well Encyclopedia Britannica (EB) is still a trusted source even though one of it’s largest competitors is Wikipedia (who I would not consider a trusted source of fact).  And now EB claims to be updating their info every 20 minutes instead of once a year! Maybe getting rid of the cumbersome books is a good thing. The last volume that was printed on paper was printed in 2010, weighs 129 pounds and cost just under $1400. Now you can go to www.britannica.com and get unlimited access to their entire database of constantly updated information for $70 a year. That may seem like a lot of money but if you have a couple kids in the house who are always online looking for the facts about one thing or another for a school project it just might be worth it to have that information at your disposal. Remember Wikipedia is run by its readers. The other thing to consider is that once you have paid that fee you can access it from any of your digital devises. I don’t know whats going on in your house but with Bruce in the technology field he is always getting the newest piece of equipment. And with two kids growing up in the digital generation we all have a tablet or electronic reader of some kind.

As another book bites the dust I can’t help but think about how many more trees were saved with this announcement! 129 pounds for one set of the encyclopedia has to be an enormous amount of paper. I think that my biggest concern is that up until now even if you didn’t have the most recent set of Encyclopedia Britannica in your home you could go to the library and sit there as long as you wanted and make use of their resources and now that they aren’t being printed anymore and you have to pay to use them online will you still be able to go to the library to do research on anything that has happened or been created or discovered in the past 10 years? Of course you can still research ancient Greece or the Renaissance at the library. There have been a million books printed about such subjects. But what if you are doing research on something that has come along in the past 5-10 years? It is going to start becoming dramatically more difficult to find trusted sources on newer information. The internet is full of opinions and blogs with little room for stated fact. (I say that as I am giving you my opinion in my blog! =]) Will the libraries be paying the $70 a year to give the public access to the most recent Encyclopedia Britannica online within their buildings? I can’t imagine the libraries are doing too well financially in this world technology and the growing amount of information on the internet at everyone’s disposal.

A subject for another time I think!