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Schneider, Manfred

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Frankfurter Rundschau - Germany | 14/02/2008

Brockhaus ceases publication of its paper edition

"This news represents a watershed," was Manfred Schneider's comment on the announcement by the traditional Brockhaus publishing house that it would be making its encyclopaedia available on-line from 15 April on a free, advertising-financed website rather than publishing a new paper edition of the thirty-one volume work. "A review of the history of Brockhaus forces contemporary book-lovers to draw the wistful conclusion that this move marks not only a change in publishing strategy but also the end of an era. The book as the main medium of enlightenment, political progress and the institution of knowledge - the medium from which both respectability and resistance to the passing of time speak out of fat, leather-bound volumes - is stepping into the shadow of the new Gods who go by the names of speed, topicality and multi-media. It is not, as some commentators may think, the success of on-line ventures like Wikipedia that has forced the publishers to make this move. Rather the need arises out of the two dynamic forces to which knowledge is subjected today. The medium of the internet alone is able to shape the tempo, expansion and constantly changing nature of knowledge, and above all play a role in its permanently becoming obsolete."

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