Encyclopaedia Britannica – End of an Era

On March 14, 2012, the Encyclopaedia Britannica company, announced it would no longer publish a print edition of its iconic encyclopedias.  They have decided to focus on their online products and other brands which includes Merriam-Webster, Inc.  The final print edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica was published in 2010, a 32-volume set that sold for over $1,300.

While this news probably generates yawns from most people, it reminded me of the set of encyclopedias that my parents purchased from a door-to-door salesman when we were quite young.

The set traveled with us to each of our homes and can be seen in many of our old family photos.

Our first home in 1959.  I am the oldest (far right) with my two younger sisters (at the time).  The encyclopedias are on the top shelf of the bookcase.

You can see the set in this picture taken in 1959.  There was one book per letter of the alphabet with some books including more than one letter.  The entire set contained a few more than 20 books.

I’m sure many homes back then included sets of encyclopedias and, in fact, the few comments that I saw about this said that most people whose families who owned these books never even opened them.

Our second home, circa 1962, and my mother with my brother who was kid #5.  Same bookcase, different house.

So, I must have been an exception to the rule because I loved reading our encyclopedias.  I know that I read every single one of them and went back to them time and again to learn about something I was interested in.

I remember that as times changed, the encyclopedia’s information became outdated, and I loved reading stuff and feeling like I knew more than the encyclopedia.

Yes, I guess I was a nerd back then.  Except that the word, nerd, wasn’t yet in wide use.  I was called a bookworm.

Actually, I prefer bibliophile.

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