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April 21, 2008, 11:59 AM ET

'Encyclopaedia Britannica' Is Now Free to Bloggers

Encyclopaedia Britannica, which apparently fears being nudged into irrelevance by the proliferation of free online reference sources, has started giving bloggers free access to its articles, TechCrunch reports.

Reference sites such as Wikipedia, which are often criticized for their amateur (if zealous) authorship sources, have made the expensive, expert-vetted, hard-bound book set a less popular purchase. (Comscore analysis, also reported on TechCrunch, found that “[f]or every page viewed on Brittanica.com, 184 pages are viewed on Wikipedia,” or 3.8 billion v. 21 million page views per month).

Under a new program entitled Britannica WebShare, the encyclopedia publisher is allowing “people who publish with some regularity on the Internet, be they bloggers, webmasters, or writers,” to read and link to the encyclopedia’s online articles. The company seems to hope that by offering its services free to Web publishers, links to Britannica articles will proliferate across the Internet and will persuade regular Web surfers to cough up $1,400 for the encyclopedia’s 32-volume set, or perhaps $70 for an annual online subscription. —Catherine Rampell

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