Encyclopaedia Britannicas Selling Fast

In its final days, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is seeing a resurgence. The oldest continuously published encyclopedia in the English language has been flying off the shelves since the company announced last month it would discontinue its print editions.

According to this article by The New York Times, sales of the Encyclopaedia Britannica — a 32-volume set that weighs 129 pounds — had greatly decreased in recent years. Thanks to the Internet and sites like Wikipedia, the need for print editions of encyclopedias has become scarce. Before the March 13th announcement, only 60 sets — at a cost of $1,395 — were sold per week.

Since then, the 4,000 copies stored in the Britannica warehouse have gone so quickly, there are now only a few hundred left. On average, 1,050 are now being sold per week. They’re all expected to be sold by the end of April.

According to Jorge Cauz, president of Encyclopaedia Britannica, “When they thought it would be around forever, there was no rush to buy one,” Mr. Cauz said in an e-mail. “But now, suddenly, it’s a scarce item.”

It’s not surprising that the company would opt to discontinue publishing the print editions. After all, print encyclopedias are a dying breed. Nonetheless, it’s still sad to see the end of an era. Just another item that has become irrelevant in our society — like the Walkman and answering machine.

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