The last printed edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica was published in 2010. When the last copy is sold that will be it for the printed edition of the almost 250 year old publication.
The reason why is obvious. The net has made the hard copy unnecessary. More specifically, to research why something called "Britannica" is published in Chicago, I went to Wikipedia. Here's what I learned:
Encyclopedia Britannica was first published in Edinburgh in 1768 when the Scottish Enlightenment dominated the English-speaking world's intellectual life. Adam Smith and David Hume - intellectuals don't come more dominant than that - were its leaders.
By the early 20th century the Scottish publishers had run out of ideas to keep the thing afloat financially and America entrepreneurs began to publish the set. For a while it was published by Sears, Roebuck … which makes me think of those catalogues in a whole new light.
In the Sixties it became the plaything of the University of Chicago's Great Books proponent Mortimer J. Adler.
More recently it was owned by the Safra family.
At $1,395 it is tough to justify a purchase when so much out there is free. And, as Jorge Cauz, Britanica's president said, "The most important thing about Britannica is that Britannica is relevant and vibrant because it brings scholarly knowledge to an editorial process to as many knowledge seekers as possible." That can be done via the web more quickly, and with less damage to forests. It can also allow the publisher to develop new revenue streams.
The question is, if you download the complete set into your Kindle will it weigh too much to carry around with you?