The ‘virtual book’ is taking over – we are all aware of that. You now see so many people reading on Kindles or similar devices (my wife who loves books has now gone over to a Kindle and loves it) so it is only a matter of time before hard copies of books go the way of the vinyl record – they will still be available but only as a luxury for people who refuse to move with the times.
So it is sad to see the demise of something that was always a part of my childhood – the Encyclopaedia Britannica is going out of print after 244 years. When its current stock runs out, it will no longer be available in book form.
This was always the ‘holy grail’ of information when I was at school, we didn’t have a copy of the volumes at home, (it cost a fortune) but the local library did, and the information available was simply amazing to a small boy! Obviously now our kids just log onto the internet and do a Wikipedia search or just ‘Google’ it. They probably get much more information far quicker and with the addition of colour pictures and videos. But they don’t have the pleasure of leafing through a large volume (that often had a ‘special’ smell).
It is competition from the internet that has caused the withdrawal of hard copy version – the encyclopaedia’s publisher is focusing instead on its digital editions. I don’t suppose we should be surprised, but it is another nail in the coffin for traditional reference books.