The move away from print and towards digital media appears to be inexorable. The once mighty Encyclopedia Britannica announced in March that they would no longer be printing their volumes for public consumption. They would be shifting their focus towards online content instead. And now that promise has been fulfilled.
The new iPad (and iPhone) app has been launched, which will allow users to access the same vast store of knowledge and information that made Encyclopedia Britannica a house-hold name. According to some sources, users will have to pay a little over $3 a month for full access to the Encyclopedia Britannica, whilst some features will be available for free.
Users will be able to download the Britannica app from the iTunes and app store and if recent reports are anything to go by most should find it extremely easy to use. Not only will people be able to find all the same timeless information included in the printed version, but they will also be treated to daily updates and more topical content. In addition, this app will make searching for information in the Britannica as swift and painless as using Wikipedia – the major digital competitor, whose information is freely available. Articles are cross-linked, which means that users can simply click on a word to find more about a subject.
Whilst there are some who regret the loss of the printed version, the majority of web surfers and information-seekers will be glad to have an alternative to Wikipedia. Moreover, the Encyclopedia Britannica in many ways provides more reliable, authoritative content than its openly-editable rival. For instance, users can expect to find informative articles by Bishop Desmond Tutu and former US president Bill Clinton as well as a number of author major authorities.
In addition, information-seekers will be able to access one of the world’s greatest stores of knowledge for a tiny fraction of the former price. The final print edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica cost almost $1400. To put this in context, consumers today can buy ipad 2 tablets for less than one third of that price. And with full access to the online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica costing less than $40 dollars a year, (via the iPad app), it seems there is now a much more cost-effective way to gather reliable information.
In terms of technical details, the Encyclopedia Britannica app requires iOS 4.3 or later and is fully compatible with the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Users can download the app for free and access the first 100 words of each article without paying for a subscription. In addition, some articles and features can be accessed in full completely for free. You can find out more by visiting the iTune store and checking out the latest version of the Britannica app.