The Encyclopaedia Britannica has at last succumbed to the inevitable. It will no longer be published in a print edition but is going online only. David Runciman’s 2009 review of The Wikipedia Revolution by Andrew Lih begins:
The best one-volume encyclopedia in the world used to be the Columbia Encyclopedia, first published by Columbia University Press in 1935. In our house we have the fifth edition, from 1993, and we still get it out occasionally to look up kings and queens and old-fashioned stuff like that. It’s a lovely book, fat but portable and full of nuggety little entries on most things you can think of. It also has quite a poignant preface, in which the editors talk about the difficulties of updating an encyclopedia in such a fast-changing world: they note how much history, politics, even geography they have had to revise since the collapse of the Soviet Empire just a couple of years earlier. They are clearly proud of their efforts to keep up to speed, but some things inevitably slip through the net. There are for example no entries for ‘email’, the ‘World Wide Web’ or the ‘internet’, all of which were just beginning to attract attention in 1993. The editors think the pace of change at the end of the 20th century means that traditional works of reference are going to have a hard time keeping up. Really they have no idea.