14 March 2012

End of an Era: encyclopedia or erotica?

Today while looking for something interesting to post, I ran across some sad news (at least I think it's sad): Encyclopedia Britannica will no longer be producing print versions. They say it is no longer viable because, in this digital age, people no longer want to look up the answers when they can just 'google' or 'wikki' them. Online subscriptions to the encyclopedia will still be available and there are apps but no more print. 

This is so sad to me. I started 'reading' the encyclopedia when I was about 2 years old. My mom talks about getting up in the night and finding me sitting on the living room floor with the encyclopedia checking out the pictures.
Later, I remember making a goal for myself - I must have been about 8 or 9, that I would read the entire encyclopedia from A - Z. I can't remember if I ever reached that goal but I know I started.
Here's an interesting set of stats from the article in the Daily Mail (online version, of course):

A quarter of children do not know what an encyclopaedia is, with one in ten thinking it is something you cook with, travel on, use to catch a ball or to perform an operation.
The research findings, from Birmingham Science City, give an insight into the growing use of digital resources compared to print counterparts.

Below is a snapshot of the results of the survey of 500 six to 15-year-olds across the UK:

  • Almost half (45%) have never used a print encyclopaedia, yet more than three quarters (76%) have used Wikipedia.
  • The majority (54%) of six to 15-year-olds admit Google is their first point of call when they have a question.
  • Nearly a fifth (19%) have never used a print dictionary.
  • The majority (91%) of children use Google, with almost half (47%) 'Googling' at least five times a day and a fifth (18%) using the search engine ten times or more daily. 
  • When Google is not able to help, a fifth of children would then look to Wikipedia for answers.
  • The results show that while youngsters are clued up on how to search the net, few are as comfortable with more traditional sources of information. 

Interestingly, while the digital age has pummelled the Encyclopedia Britannica out of print, it has vastly increased the sales of erotica. The BBC postulates that the 40 - 50% shift to digital formats of erotica and romance is happening because people can read them on their e-readers without others knowing what they are reading. Rowan Pelling, former editor of Erotic Review and now a Telegraph columnist,is quoted in the article as saying: that "women are more dishonest" about reading erotica so digital formats mean they can access it without people knowing. 
What does this say about us, I wonder?


  1. Oh man! This is so sad! I used to read encyclopedias too. I loved it! Of course now I do tend to use the computer more but that's just because my old set of encyclopedias are just that, old, outdated. That's still really sad, though. :(

  2. I was guilt-tripped into reading the encyclopedia by my mother who expected to get her money's worth from her children reading it everyday:)

  3. I used to want my parents to buy encyclopedias. I always wanted a set. It was like a goal or something. We could never afford them and soon I forgot about them. It is definitely sad about wikipedia because that isn't quite so accurate.

  4. Well i google cos it is faster and does not take up space :/ Of course if I had it on a disc..yes :D

  5. It's sad isn't it? Although I like the immediacy of looking things up online, I like the comfort of a book shelf of encyclopedias :)


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