Encyclopædia Britannica - First Edition

Photograph of the first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica

The big news of the day is that Encyclopedia Britannica, the world’s best-known and most-reliable reference encyclopedia that was first published more than two centuries ago, will no longer be available in print.

If your budget permits and your bookshelf has enough space to accommodate the 32-volume set, you can still grab the classic printed edition of the Britannica set from Amazon.com but once their existing stock is finished, the encyclopedia will only be available in digital format.

The editors also announced that the online edition of Britannica, available at britannica.com, will be “entirely free for a full week beginning today.” For instance, here’s a detailed entry on Encyclopaedia Britannica about Encyclopaedia Britannica.

The Britannica website follows the WSJ model – you can read the first few paragraphs of any article for free but the full content is only available to subscribers. If you haven’t explored Britannica earlier because of the pay-wall, now be a good time as they have opened the entire archive to non-subscribers for the full week.

Unlike Wikipedia which is ad-free, the online edition of Britannica uses Google Ads to monetize their content. And in case you haven’t seen it before, here’s a TV commercial for Encyclopedia Britannica from the pre-Internet days.