$50 Encyclopædia Britannica

Sunday 17 October 2004This is over 18 years old. Be careful.

Every year around now, the Brookline Public Library has a book sale run by the Friends of the Public Library of Brookline. Every year, I go in to look around. Sometimes I buy something, sometimes I don’t.

This time, they had four boxes full of a complete 1984 Encyclopædia Britannica, plus a three-volume Webster’s dictionary, plus a dozen or so volumes of the Annals of America. The price: $50.

As a kid, we had a 1969 edition of the Britannica within easy reach. I often perused the encyclopedia the way people today surf the web: start at random, and follow references and threads until sated. I learned from my mother the habit of looking up more information on whatever topic is currently at hand (these days, the itch is more often gratified with IMDB, Google, and Wikipedia). I couldn’t let a good Britannica molder in the Library’s basement.

The $50 price was too good to pass up, especially after checking eBay and seeing similar items for three times the price. So I bought it and lugged it home. Now I just need to find the 49.5 inches of space to get the books out of the boxes and onto a shelf.

BTW: the Britannica site has this review of what sounds like a pretty good book: The Know It All: One Man’s Humble Attempt to Become the Smartest Person in the World, written by a guy who read the whole encyclopedia!


We had WorldBook encylopedia when I was in gradeschool; at one point I did read through the whole thing, but I already had a high reading speed and an absurd memory for trivia.

These days, WikiPedia fits on about $30 worth of SD Flash and takes up around 3 orders of magnitude less volume :-)

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