Will there ever be a new print version of the Columbia Encyclopedia?

I love the Columbia Encyclopedia. The last printed version is the 6th edition, from 2000. Will there ever be another print edition? (I’m asking about the unabridged version, not the “concise” version.)

It was first published in 1935 and the current (2020) edition is only the sixth, so it might be quite a few years before another print edition is due.

Will there ever be another print encyclopedia from anybody?

They’re insanely expensive to compile and to print. They’re obsolete the moment they go on sale. They have no discernible audience, yet they depend on giant sales figures.

Will someone somewhere sometime try putting one out? Who knows. But the odds are wildly against it.

World Book Encyclopedia is still being printed and you can pre-order the 2023 edition, 22 volumes, for $1199.

The current edition is from 2000, not 2020.

In that case, I would be betting against a new edition coming out.

Back in the 1970s, I got a job selling Colliers Encyclopedia. I was a poor salesman and did not last long. We worked to a script, with a whole team working during the day to make evening appointments because the husband and wife needed to be onboard or they would surely cancel.

I recall we were told to evict any dogs and turn the TV off before we started the presentation. The Encyclopedia was free, but buyers had to sign up for ten yearbooks, to be paid for over three years. It was a lot of money then for a shelf full of books that would probably just sit there gathering dust.

They were a poor investment then and once computers were commonly available, an even worse one.

We do used book sales to raise funds for our Library Foundation. Selling books donated by people – but we won’t even take encyclopedias any more. We can’t sell them at all, and even the recycling companies (where we sell damaged books) won’t even take them – the covers aren’t recyclable, and it’s too expensive to separate from the pages.

So you can’t even give them away now!

I loved my family’s 1964 Edition World Book Encylopedia. I would spend hours just looking through it and using it as a reference for school projects. If I needed more information, I would go to my local library.

My nine-year-old grandson has never been to a public library and can find everything he needs online. What he finds may not be as authoritative as an encyclopedia, but it’s close enough and usually more current.

As was mentioned, I don’t think there will ever be a market for a physical encyclopedia again. They are expensive to develop and print, even if you’ve been making them for 100 years. However, there is an online encyclopedia, but it looks just like the Google search engine.

I really doubt that there will ever be a print version of an encyclopedia ever again. Maybe an online version that requires a subscription, but I could never figure out why people ever bought encyclopedias for home use. I had to assume that the biggest market was uneducated people. I remember my sister and I trying to convince my mother to get rid of my grandfather’s set of encyclopedias after he passed away. They were in their own bookcase, which probably came with the set. My mother resisted getting rid of them - she was convinced they would be useful to her grandchildren. She couldn’t understand that a set of encyclopedias bought in the 50s with only a couple of yearbooks would be worse than useless in the year 2000 - it would be inaccurate.

We had a complete set of World Book Encyclopedia in the 70s. I loved it. Over the course of several years I read it practically cover to cover. We were not uneducated by any means. I just loved reading about random facts. I was a weird kid.

What?! :flushed:

That’s okay, I’ll stick to Google. LOL

My grandparents owned a four-volume encyclopedia from the 1950s, and after they passed away I took it as an heirloom. Part of the appeal it has for me is childhood memories, but occasionally I do look up things in it. I know, of course, that it’s hopelessly outdated, but I find it interesting to contrast the way things were perceived and written about in the 1950s with a modern perspective.

We (that is, my parents’ household) also owned a 24-volume paperback encyclopedia. I was another one of those geeky kids who would often read random articles in it just for interest.

this was me in the 80s and if we had stayed with my grandparents they probably would of bought a new set in the 90s or at least bought the “year books” …but we didn’t so they quit buying them and then grandma rather spitefully gave them away

The only possible use besides nostalgia for an encyclopaedia these days is for art projects, cutting out some of the photos for a collage or something.

Hey guys, the Columbia Encyclopedia is in a league of its own. It’s a large chunky single-volume text-filled reference that contains pretty much everything that’s important or informative. It has nothing in common with the multi-volume picture-filled sets that are made for kids and families. If I had to bring one book to a desert island, it would be the Columbia Encyclopedia. So back to the OP, I guess nobody has any factual information on whether or when another print edition is coming out.

I also was one of those kids who read the encyclopedia for fun. Can’t remember which encyclopedia we had, but I remember we bought it at the supermarket - one volume would go on sale every week, so that in six months you had the whole set. We also bought the Will and Ariel Durant history book set that way.

I always wanted an Encyclopaedia Britannica, but couldn’t convince my parents to shell out the money. Finally bought a set in the early 90s and have been dragging them around ever since; I can’t convince Mrs. Martian that we should get rid of them - she likes the way they look on the bookcase (we’ve always bee the type that when the bookcase filled up you don’t get rid of books, you get another bookcase).

I can’t conceive of shelling out that kind of money for a set of reference books again. Fortunately the internet gathered steam before I fulfilled by wish to have an unabridged set of the OED…

I had a two-volume copy of the OED. They are big, thick books printed on thin paper in tiny print, probably weighing a good kilo apiece. They came complete with a magnifying glass stored in the slipcase. Unfortunately, we simply don’t have room for more bookcases, so I donated them a decade ago on the grounds that they were just gathering dust.

You want factual information? Well, someone upthread mentioned the World Book Encyclopedia, which has a new edition coming out soon and its website says, “As the only general reference encyclopedia still published today, The World Book Encyclopedia 2023 provides authoritative content on almost every topic to learners of all ages, from school-age readers (9-18) to adults.”

So I’m guessing the answer is no, there will never be a new print version of the Columbia Encyclopedia. However, if that’s not good enough, you should contact Columbia University Press (which published the Columbia Encyclopedia) at

Columbia University Press
61 West 62 Street
New York, NY 10023
Telephone: (212) 459-0600

Be sure to let us know what they tell you.