Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

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View of the current seat of the Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. in Chicago

The Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. is a Scottish-based, now American publishing company best known for publishing the  Encyclopædia Britannica  , the world's oldest continuously published encyclopedia .


The predecessor company of the Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. was founded in  Edinburgh in the 18th century by the printer Colin Macfarquhar  and the engraver  Andrew Bell . In the atmosphere of the Scottish Enlightenment , both wanted to create an encyclopedia to express the new spirit of learning. As editor of the work they won the naturalist and encyclopaedist William Smellie .

The first edition of the encyclopedia appeared in weekly deliveries from 1768 and was combined into three volumes in 1771, which sold out quickly after their publication. Encouraged by this success, the second edition of the work appeared between 1777 and 1784 in ten volumes. The encyclopedia's reputation grew as its subsequent editions were published. Leading scholars of their day began collaborating between 1815 and 1824, including Sir Walter Scott , Thomas Malthus , David Ricardo , James Mill, and Thomas Young .

In 1826, the London company A&C Black bought the encyclopedia. Around 1870 the publishing house moved from Edinburgh to London, where the 9th to 14th editions of the work were published. The 9th edition was published in the period from 1875 to 1889. The 11th edition, which was created with the assistance of Cambridge University and already comprised 29 volumes, appeared in 1910/11.

Sears Roebuck era

In 1920 the  trademark and publication rights to the Encyclopædia Britannica were sold to the US company Sears Roebuck  . The 12th edition of the encyclopedia was published in 1921/22, the 13th edition in 1926. A thoroughly revised 14th edition appeared in 1929.

In the mid-1930s, the company's headquarters were relocated to Chicago , Illinois  . The editorial staff were also not fired after a new edition was completed. A permanent editorial team was now working in order to be able to incorporate the rapid increase in knowledge during this time into the encyclopedia.

In 1932 the publisher started selling the encyclopedia doorstep, and from 1936 a new edition of the encyclopedia was published annually, each containing the latest changes and updates.

In 1938 the first edition of the Britannica Book of the Year appeared in addition to the encyclopedia  . This annual supplement will be published today.

William Benton era

The trademark and publication rights went to the US politician William Benton in 1943 . He published the Encyclopædia Britannica from 1943 until his death in 1973. After the death of his widow Helen Benton in 1974, the Benton Foundation continued the Encyclopædia Britannica until the company was sold to  Jacqui Safra  .

In 1947, the published Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.,  with 10 Eventful Years a compendium of  World War II  in 4 volumes. In 1952, the pioneering work was followed by  Great Books of the Western World from the perspective of the publisher - a 54-volume compilation of the - most important books of Western civilization.

The publishing rights to  Compton's Encyclopedia  were from the 1961 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. purchased. Merriam-Webster Inc. has been a subsidiary of the publisher since 1964.

In 1974 came the first version of the completely revised 15th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica with a total of thirty volumes on the market. A second version of this edition appeared from 1985 in thirty-two volumes.

On March 9, 1976, the US banned Federal Trade Commission  of Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., the use of a) fraudulent advertising practices in the recruitment of sales agents and b) fraudulent sales practices at the doorstep sale of its sales representatives. In 1996 door-to-door sales were completely discontinued.

In 1981 the first digital version of the Encyclopædia Britannica was created for the LexisNexis service and in 1989 the first multimedia CD-ROM encyclopedia, Compton's MultiMedia Encyclopedia , was published.

Until the 1990s, the Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. produced encyclopedias and other teaching materials in Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Italy, France, Spain, Latin America, Turkey, Hungary and Poland or was involved in their development.

In 1994 the company developed Britannica Online , the first encyclopedia for the Internet , which made the entire contents of the Encyclopædia Britannica available worldwide. In that year the first version of the Encyclopædia Britannica was published on CD-ROM.

Jacqui Safra era

After dwindling sales, the Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. was acquired in 1996 by Jacqui Safra, a Swiss-based financier, who saved the company from financial failure. Under Safra's leadership, the company has gone through some financial challenges.

In 1999, the company announced that it would offer free access to its online encyclopedia. As of July 2001, access must be paid for $ 50. In 2002, the company launched the Britannica Online School Edition , a comprehensive educational offering specifically for elementary and secondary schools. This was extensively expanded in 2004 and 2005.

In March 2012, the Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. announced that after 244 years and more than 7 million total editions of the Encyclopædia Britannica sold, no new editions would appear in book form. The last print version was the 32-volume, 129-pound edition from 2010. New editions have been offered exclusively online since then.

See also


  • Encyclopædia Britannica May Refer to 'For Sale' to Raise Capital, Portland Oregonian , April 7, 1995
  • Richard A. Melcher, Dusting Off the Britannica, Business Week , October 20, 1997
  • Steve Barth, Britannica on the Virtual Bookshelf, Knowledge Management Magazine
  • Dorothy Auchter, The Evolution of Encyclopædia Britannica, Reference Services Review 27, No. 3

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i j k l History of Encyclopædia Britannica and Britannica Online. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on October 20, 2006 ; accessed on November 18, 2017 (English). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / corporate. britica.com
  2. 2017 Britannica Book of the Year (A Review of 2016). (No longer available online.) Formerly in the original ; accessed on November 19, 2017 (English).  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link / store. britica.com  
  3. 10 Eventful Years: A Record of Events of the Years Preceding, Including and Following World War II, 1937 Through 1946. Retrieved November 19, 2017 (English).
  4. Mortimer J. Adler. In: www.bridica.com. Retrieved November 19, 2017 .
  5. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 1988
  6. Merriam-Webster dictionary. Retrieved November 17, 2017 .
  7. In the Matter of Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. et al., Pp. 421-541. Retrieved November 17, 2017 .
  8. ^ The Building of Britannica Online. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on September 27, 2007 ; accessed on November 20, 2017 (English). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.howtoknow.com