Encyclopedia Survey: Most Wouldn't Buy Encyclopedias Today

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Posted Mar 15, 2012
Anne Pilon

Encyclopedia Britannica has recently announced that it will no longer make printed copies of its encyclopedia sets. Many feel that this marks the end of an era for the printed word, but others say it’s a step in the right direction. Do most Americans still see value in traditional encyclopedia sets, or are they more likely to quickly look up information online?

encyclopedia britannica

Printed Sets

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, just 26% of respondents said they currently own a physical copy of an encyclopedia. Of those respondents, 72% said they own a full set of encyclopedias, such as those that were sold by Encyclopedia Britannica. And 21% said they owned just a single-subject or condensed encyclopedia. Another 7% said they owned both types. Respondents over 55 years old and those with at least a 4-year college degree were just slightly more likely to own encyclopedias.

Changing Times

However, even many of those who own an encyclopedia don’t seem too loyal to the traditional format. 65% of those who currently own an encyclopedia said that they would not replace it if it were lost or damaged today. Just 11% said they definitely would replace it, and 24% were undecided.

Online Encyclopedias

Of course, online encyclopedia formats have already replaced traditional encyclopedias for many Americans. 61% of overall respondents said they use the popular Wikipedia to look up information, while another 11% use other online encyclopedia sites. 15% said they don’t use any online encyclopedias specifically, but they do look up information using the internet. And 13% said they don’t use them at all. The widget below shows the results of the AYTM.com survey in full. Be sure to click “open full report” for full details.Photo Credit: IMG_1067 from FlickrWhat do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on March 14 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

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