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Encyclopedia Britanica Surges

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

We all had these in our house when we were younger, right?  Many purposes served like holding doors open, boosting your little brother up to the dinner table at mealtime.  Once in awhile we would actually crack one open to find some information to copy for a report we were doing in school.

It seems all Encyclopedia Britannica needed to boost business was to announce that they’re going out of business. Well, sort of. The company is far from going out of business but did announce last month that they would no longer publish the print edition of their iconic encyclopedia. Ironically, since the announcement, they’ve been overwhelmed with orders for the final edition and are now down to fewer than 800 copies available of the $1,395 set. Spokesman Tom Panelas said the company expected orders to increase after the announcement, but didn’t anticipate that the typical 60 orders a week would skyrocket to over 1,000. At one point, orders were coming in so fast that even senior executives helped out manning the phones. First printed in Scotland in 1768, the 32-volume encyclopedia has been available online since 1994 and currently makes up less than 5% of the company’s overall revenues.

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