Back in March, it was announced that after centuries of being a print staple, the venerable Encyclopaedia Britannica was moving- for better or worse- to the digital realm.
It was certainly the end of an era for people old enough to remember when encyclopedias like Encyclopaedia Britannica were the be all and end all of research, as they recalled what a big deal it was for a geeky child to receive such an amazing gift or be granted access to the multi-volume sets before the internet and the elephant in the room (Wikipedia) revolutionized research.
Still, the fact that Encyclopaedia Britannica made it this far at all is somewhat impressive and almost rather quaint- the need for a paper and leather bound version of the tomes information that can now be disseminated for little cost and updated regularly had clearly dissipated, and the continuation of the tradition was, if anything, a bit wasteful.
But scarcity and end runs are great for business, and such has been the case for Encyclopaedia Britannica as it sells off its final print edition. While the reference tomes used to move in the neighborhood of about 60 sets per week, that number has shot to more than one thousand sets sold per week since the big announcement was made.
Encyclopaedia Britannica spokesman Tom Panelas says that in the weeks since the move to digital was made public knowledge, the company has struggled to keep up with demand for the final set:
“The size and duration of the spike has been a little bit stronger than we expected… The first couple of days, our phone lines were overloaded. The people who take the orders were here one night past 10 o’clock… the senior executive in that area was answering phones.”
The company is down to just 800 sets of the final print edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica.