Brittanica – Going Digital Gracefully

English: Title page of the Americanized Encycl...

English: Title page of the Americanized Encyclopedia Britannica (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Techdirt recently reported on how a British institution adapted to the new century’s technology rather than trying to sue its competitors into oblivion or whining “that’s not fair”.

The first decade of this century has seen a massive shift to digital distribution and consumption both legally and illegally.  Some traditional media creators have reacted to this with great anger and lawsuits that would keep Ally McBeal busy for a few series (ok, showing my age there, but it was the last legal series I watched).  Instead of adapting business models to cater for these new outlets, providing exclusive tasty content or extra value with digital downloads to tempt people away from pirate sites for example, they have tried to simply legislate the problem away – hence SOPA et al.

They criticise artists who give away content for free, ignoring the facts that this can generate sales as people will often pay for foll0w up material, as also often happens after someone downloads pirated material and then buys the album after they find they like it.  As a content producer I don’t condone piracy, but I don’t feel that tighter copyright laws will help either.

Which brings me on to the venerable, weighty and very British Encyclopedia Britannica.  In the nineties a CD based publication was launched and then as that market faded they launched their own online encyclopedia in the face of the onslaught of Wikipedia and the like.  In both cases they saw what was coming early on and adapted and restructured in order to embrace and make the most of the emerging technology rather than hold on to the past.  Britannica.com is still here alongside Wikipedia because it has evolved, moved with the times and because of its history and reputation it is still a trusted source of information.  They have a premium paid-for service that provides extras for members such as videos, research tools and more.

From door-to-door to digital with no fuss, taking it all in its stride.

[Techdirt]

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