News today that the Encyclopaedia Britannica would no longer publish its print editions after 244 years should not discourage anyone who want to peruse the entries that have served as credible, scholarly sources for term papers for as long as most of us can remember. Instead of paying $1,395 for the 32-volume set, you can still get a CD copy or download the iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch application free with limited content and pay $1.99 per month for access to all of it.
I got to try it out last December for a “Get App-y” column. Here’s more information.
This “Get App-y” column originally appeared in The Oklahoman on Dec. 20, 2011:
Those who look up “Christmas” in the Encyclopaedia Britannica get a litany of choices among the entries — they can read about the holiday, the island, the tree, the carol, the famous novel by Charles Dickens and the cactus, among others, as well as detailed information about each one.
The oldest English-language encyclopedia — it was first published with three volumes in 1768 — is now available on one of the most modern devices, the iPad, and its smaller counterparts, the iPhone and iPod Touch.
The 32-volume encyclopedia is still available in print, and the $2,000 price of the books includes support material such as DVDs and online access. For $195, people can buy reprints of the three volumes first published more than 240 years ago.
But as more people get their news and information on their mobile device, Encyclopaedia Britannica is meeting them there. Users can download the free mobile application to their devices for limited access and for $1.99 a month have access to all 80,000 or so of the articles that Britannica offers.
The company also is developing Android and Microsoft versions of the mobile app.
If you want to start researching a topic, this is a good place to start, with content provided and verified by experts — scientists, historians, Nobel laureates and political leaders that include former U.S. and international presidents.
When the app first opens, a large “Did You Know?” screen about an entry appears, as well as something that happened on that day in history.
For the most part, entries on the app stay current — news of the Oct. 20 death of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi is already incorporated.
In the app, it’s easy to search for an entry, email, download for offline viewing or save to favorites. Entries are cross-referenced and linked.
For those who want to learn a little bit about everything, the encyclopedia is the place to get it. Britannica’s mobile versions make it even easier to find that knowledge. For one man’s funny abridged version, author A.J. Jacobs offered that a few years ago after reading the entire set from A to Z and tossing out his new wisdom in “The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World.”
I wonder if he’d feel even smarter reading the encyclopedia on his iPad.
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman, email@example.com