Monday, March 24, 2014

Encyclopedia Britannica lives - at least on iOS

As a kid I wanted to read the encyclopedia - from A to Z. We couldn’t afford an encyclopedia though, so I had to make do with the dictionary [3]. 

So when Britannica, which had more or less skipped the CD era [1], went on the web I was an early customer [2]. They struggled technically though, and by 2006 I dropped my subscription. After 2008 I mostly forgot about them.

It turns out they’re still around, supposedly making money [7] and still charging a $70 subscription for access to most articles (current news topics are often free). That’s a bit steep, especially since a link from our kids school gives me full access to the “High School” version. [5] (Alas, my ancient Britannica Dashboard widget [4] can’t be configured to use that URL.)

On the other hand, the iOS app subscription is only $15/year, and all devices for the purchaser’s Apple ID can use the subscription. On my kid’s parental controlled iPhones the entire content is accessible without authentication needed [8].

So I signed up [6]. For now I’m an EB subscriber/user again; hope they last a few more years.

see also

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[1] MacKiev World Book, by the way, is $30 on the App Store. I bought the DVD for $40 in 2012 - but I have to confess kids have not used it as much as I’d hoped.

[2] According to a 2005 post of mine, I used to prefer 1990s Britannica’s manually maintained index of web sites to Yahoo’s. This was back in the Alta Vista era. I know I was a paying customer from at least 2001-2006 - at about $70 a year.

[3] Much later I bought a complete set of the 1911 Edition. That is very cool browsing.

[4] Mavericks lets me assign multiple desktops to my secondary vertical display, so that’s where my Dashboard sits. When I want to park a doc in that display I swipe Dashboard away.

[5] I wonder if the school is supposed to post that redirect publicly. I don’t want to get them in trouble, so you’ll have to explore on your own. I can’t see any difference between High School version and public version.

[6] Auto-renews. Note you can manage these subscriptions from your iPhone - go Settings - Store and then Apple ID and tap around.

[7] Given the amount of broken stuff on their web site that can’t be a ton of money.

[8] I found some links that would take me to the web; those opened in Safari and were blocked. So no obvious backdoor.

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