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Encyclopedia Britannica Goes Fully Digital, Offering Expensive Term Paper Citation Alternative To Wikipedia

(Encyclopedia Britannica editions are seen at the New York Public Library on March 14, 2012 in New York City. Encyclopedia Britannica announced it will be ceasing its print edition of reference books for the first time in its 244-year history to focus solely on digital versions.)

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Congratulations, book nerds! Your 2010 hard copy edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica may someday be a collectible.

The venerable company has announced it will stop publishing new editions for the first time since it started over 200 years ago in Edinburgh, Scotland. The reason? Britannica’s gone digital and publishers say it’s time to retire the version that can also double as a weight set.

“This has nothing to do with Wikipedia or Google,” the Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. president told the Associated Press. Instead the company, which claims its online version currently serves over 100 million people worldwide, says the move reflects the fact that its digital sales are the future. Hard-copy sales peaked with 120,000 sets of the large, beautifully illustrated books flying off the shelves in 1990.

To celebrate the transition, Britannica will offer a week’s free access to its online content, written and edited by the likes of Bill Clinton and Desmond Tutu. And its free online rival, Wikipedia, has already changed the Britannica entry.

Will Britannica also get that geeky kid from the 90s to do a set of online adds for the digital versions? We hope so!