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It’s official: Printed encyclopedias are dead

The Internet has driven another spike into the coffin for encyclopedias after one of the world’s oldest academic sources decided to stop the presses.

After a 244-year run, Encyclopaedia Britannica has decided to stop producing printed editions.

Instead, it’s going to focus on its online encyclopedia and other educational curriculum projects for schools, according to the New York Times.

It’ll finish up with the 2010 version printed across a 32-volume set of printed books, but throw in the towel on killing trees to share knowledge after that’s done.

Some consider a set of encyclopedias to be a coveted purchase, displaying knowledge and wealth inside a home or office.

But that has since evaporated thanks to the Internet, and it would appear that Encyclopaedia Britannica is a few years late to the party.

I remember first using Encarta, Microsoft’s digital encyclopedia, back in the early ‘90s in elementary school. Only two computers could run it, and we’d fight over who had the right CD-ROM disc with the information we wanted.

But these days, who really needs an encyclopedia when you have the web and a search engine. Everything is almost always up-to-date. You no longer need to flip through hundreds of pages or scan an index. You don’t need a whole row of books hogging your bookcase.

Finding quality information on the web isn’t all that easy, however. Just about anyone can post something (claiming to be) fact online. And I hear teachers are everything but thrilled to let students cite a Wikipedia page.

How will you remember printed encyclopedias? 

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets




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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.