Last edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica was printed two years ago, there will be no more. After 244 years, Britannica Inc. is calling it quits in the print encyclopedia business. They sold a couple thousand copies of the 2010 edition to libraries, but that was pretty much it -- nobody else was willing to pay the price for information they can look up online as easily.
I am conflicted. I must admit that I rarely look up things in books nowadays. On the other hand I spent many a lazy summer evening picking up a random encyclopedia at a friend's house and opening it at random to some page about some topic I knew nothing about, and trying to figure out what they were talking about. In a way this gave me an education that the crappy schools of the desegregation-era South, which were all about trying to keep white boys out of the same schools as them uppity nigras and nothing about providing an education, could not have hoped to give.
And now that's gone, forever. There will be no more children on lazy summer evenings picking up an encyclopedia and turning it to a random page. I suppose it was inevitable anyhow, given the plethora of entertainment options that today's children have -- in my childhood there was one television, showing a black-and-white picture, in a large wooden piece of furniture in the living room, and if the grownups were watching a show that was not appropriate for children we were sent elsewhere to entertain ourselves. And we did, because we had no choice. And in homes full of books, naturally we picked up books. Today... that'll never happen again. Books are becoming obsolete. When I needed a new reference book on Microsoft Powershell, for example, I bought an e-book from O'Reilly, not a paper book. I have limited space on my bookshelves, and I save that for reference books I *can't* get as e-books... which is increasingly few nowadays.
-- Badtux the Wistful Penguin