Anybody want an encyclopedia?

The Encyclopedia Britannica is going out of print–the company is just going to concentrate on online services from now on, according to the Times.

Back in the 70s we bought the first of the macropedia/micropedia sets of the Britannica — a big expense for newlyweds.  We still have it, sitting unused in its own special bookcase.

I remember the controversy over the new structure, which seemed unnecessarily complicated to me (and lots of other people).  I used to dip into the encyclopedia a bit, but I haven’t opened a volume in years.  I occasionally think it would be interesting to see what the state of knowledge was in some field back then, but I was never curious enough to actually find out.  I don’t think our kids ever used it.  The Times article mentions that these encyclopedias are widely available on Craigslist and eBay.  We’ve tried to give ours away–surely someone would have a use for it!.  But no success.  The world has passed it by.

Free to a good home…

Update: Some of us were reminiscing about encyclopedias, and we recalled that there was an Encyclopedia Britannica booth at the Harvard Coop way back when, manned by a distinguished silver-haired guy wearing a tweed jacket who patiently answered all the questions from the crowds besieging the booth desperate to purchase the latest edition.  Okay, that last part was a lie.  We never saw him talking to anybody, except maybe one of the clerks in the Coop’s book department.  We figure that the only people who would buy an encyclopedia at the Coop would be rich parents who thought that their kids needed one for their dorm rooms.  Why should Muffy have to trek over to the library and share an encyclopedia with the unwashed masses when she could do her research in the comfort of her well-appointed room?

What was that guy’s story?  How did he end up sitting by himself on a stool, waiting in vain for someone to ask him about the difference between the macropedia and the micropedia?  There’s a depressing novel in there waiting to be written.

4 thoughts on “Anybody want an encyclopedia?

  1. We had a generic encyclopedia. Also not used in a long time (20 yrs at least). Could have taken it to the used book store in Burlington. But then it would have ended up in the same place, in the dumpster.


  2. All the treasures of yesteryear, gone. I have many such books — old treasures of little present use — and my mother still has the beloved World Book Encyclopedia of my childhood. But when she decides to purge, what can I say? Can’t store it. Won’t read it more than once or twice, for the sake of memory. Off it goes. Not to the dumpster, though. Recycling.


  3. I’d take it but how we gonna get it to the big city?

    In New York, not only can’t you give things away, you can’t even return things you borrowed.


    • Thanks, Stan! Your comment that in New York “you can’t even return things you borrowed” gave me my Required Daily Amount of Laughter for the day!” –MaryA


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