Encyclopedia Britannica released today their iconic volumes of information in app form on iOS.
The release comes in the wake of the company’s March announcement that they would cease production of the 244-year old general information encyclopedia. Britannica is hoping the digital platform will help spur sales of the encyclopedia as the company managed to sell only 8,500 physical copies last year.
While the transition is as inevitable as it is late, the app is a free download with a considerable amount of content available for free. To gain complete access a $1.99 monthly subscription is required. The app runs natively on both the iPad and iPhone, and is a 40.5MB download.
The app release notes claim the digital Britannica contains 80,000 “expertly written and thoroughly fact-checked” articles. Oddly enough they list Tony Hawk alongside Bill Clinton and Desmond Tutu as a “subject guru” who has contributed to the encyclopedia. Guess they’re trying to stay hip?
The $2 month subscription is exponentially cheaper than owning the encyclopedias yourself, but then again you might have access to a public library or currently be in school.
The features found within Britannica are pretty standard as far as digital and online publications go. Users can search and browse content, view photos and other graphics, save your favorite articles with “My Britannica”, and a feature “LinkMap” lets users view related topics via a relational web.
Hopefully the digital iteration of Britannica allows the editors and people in charge of content to update, and change misinformation quickly instead of waiting two years for another edition to be printed. Honestly, what needs to be fully realized is a version of Wikipedia recognized by scholastic institutions. Having an encyclopedia, or information source constantly being updated by the greatest minds in the world would be an amazing information source. Subject driven databases used at colleges across the country are great, but those supply individuals with research papers and studies available in Journals that require money to access as well.
Perhaps I’m getting off track, but if Britannica could pull its weight and use the immediacy of the internet to publish research articles alongside original encyclopedia entries, the subscription model would be infinitely more justifiable.