'Encyclopedia Britannica' Ends Print Run, Moves Online

The "Encyclopedia Britannica" is ending its 244-year-long print edition and is moving into the digital realm.

Long a staple of families across the world, the encyclopedia is ending its tradition of printing sets of the informative books. President Jorge Cauz told The Associated Press that the decision to move "Encyclopedia Britannica" to the Internet is not meant to challenge Wikipedia.

"This has to do with the fact that 'Britannica' sells its digital products to a large number of people," Cauz explained.

When compared with Wikipedia, Cauz told the New York Times, "We have very different value propositions. Britannica is going to be smaller. We cannot deal with every cartoon character; we cannot deal with every love life of every celebrity. But we need to have an alternative where facts really matter. Britannica won't be able to be as large, but it will always be factually correct."

The books have become legendary and a household name. Over 7 million sets of the encyclopedia have been printed in the past 244 years, but Wikipedia has also become a go-to for all types of information. As culture turns toward e-readers and the Internet for information, many have felt that it was only a matter of time before the famous encyclopedia followed suit and was forced to focus on its digital presence.

People have begun expressing both their shock and sadness that the "Encyclopedia Britannica" is going out of publication. "RIP, Encyclopedia Britannica in print," tweeted Patricia Hswe.

"Wow. End of an era," noted Kelsey Proud.

Twitter user Rosebud added, "Sad but not shocked-remember researching 'old school' back in the day."

The books that were once sold door-to-door for many years will now be available on the Internet, though users will still have to pay for access. There are currently no plans for free content, but "Encyclopedia Britannica" will, for one week only, allow people access to its content for free to experience what is on offer.

Fans of the printed encyclopedias still have the "World Book Encyclopedia," which is celebrating its 95th year.