There was sad news this week when Encyclopedia Britannica announced that, after 244 years in print, from now on it would only be available digitally.
Certainly, it was the most famous name in encyclopedias. A lot of families had a set of Britannicas, but it was always a pricey investment. The last 32-volume set sold for $1,395.
And, a major problem was that as the world changed, one's set of Britannicas could quickly become outdated. Our family's original set was printed before World War II - it was amazing how many countries had different names, different borders or simply ceased to exist when we tried to use them as reference volumes in the 1950s and 1960s.
We can only guess how many sets purchased pre-1990s were made completely useless when trying to research Eurasian countries after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Where did all those countries come from - where did the Soviet Union go?
But even with that risky shelf life, there was something magical about reading the reference articles and looking at the maps, charts and drawings in the encyclopedia. It was amazing how a night of research on say, London, could lead one into reading a bunch of other articles in the same volume. You could have an "L" of a night with your Britannicas.
But, time marches on. Now, those once ubiquitous volumes will become a thing of the past. To some of us, it's like saying goodbye to an old friend.
Granted, Britannica was an old friend we hadn't seen in a while. But, we have lots of those.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.