The Encyclopedia Brittanica DictionaryPublished 11:56am Friday, March 23, 2012
Well, that’s sad.
The Encyclopedia Brittanica, which has been published continuously since 1768, has rolled out its last print edition, succumbing to the electronic age.
Critics pointed out that, like Kodak, the company turned a blind eye to the competition of the internet and ‘Wikipedia,’ and that it is no surprise only 8,000 units were sold last year, world-wide.
But it’s sad, isn’t it?
A gleaming set of Encyclopedia Brittanica graced the bookshelves of many well-to-do households down through the ages and were considered somewhat of a status symbol. Parents of lesser means, still wanting to assist the education of their children, displayed copies of ‘World Book,’ but it simply wasn’t as impressive. Rather like having a new Buick in the driveway instead of a Cadillac to show off to the neighbors.
I have vivid memories of our own set, purchased by my father sometime in the early 1950s, and when I began leafing through them in the early 70s, even I realized how dated they were, but nearly daily, I stood on the couch to drag down a hefty volume, which pleased my father to no end.
“You like reading, don’t you?” he said.
“Mmmmm.” I replied, neglecting to point out that it was the same book I pulled out, in the ‘H – J’ section, because it had two pages of black and white photos depicting horse breeds and I couldn’t figure out why the sleek Shetland show pony presented looked nothing like the beloved but wooly creature with a passion for rolling in the mud that I kept in our back yard paddock.
At the end of the set in our bookcase stood the bonus tome: ‘The Encyclopedia Brittanica Dictionary’ and to any person of the modern era, you have no idea of the frustration this brought to a child.