David M. Brown's Blog

October 29, 2011

Encyclopedia Britannica’s iPad app is fabulous, and subscribing is only $2 a month

Filed under: Society and culture,Technology — davidmbrowndotcom @ 4:39 am
Tags: ,

It occurred to me today, so long as I again have access to the web version of Encyclopedia Britannica, to check whether Britannica has an app for the iPad–and lo and behold, it does. It was just recently introduced.

The app is a speed demon on iPad 2. I suffer a weak wi-fi connection when I’m upstairs, so the app might take a minute or two to churn through the Britannica database when searching for an article like “Middle Ages.” The search results list the main article and mentions of the search term in other articles. But once the results are listed, touching “Middle Ages” brings up the article lickety-split. Investigating hyper-linked terms within the article is also super-fast. After clicking on an intra-link and reading the other article, which is retrieved very quickly, one can then very quickly return to the original article by touching the BACK button that is standard in many iPad apps.

You know, when I was a kid, we didn’t have any of this sort of thing.

The app is very slick in exploiting the iPad platform. And of course the mammoth and venerable content is there. Two bucks a month is a great price for anyone who even occasionally wishes to peruse the lengthy and scholarly articles. (The best deal I could get for access to the web version a few years back was $5 a month.) Wikipedia has its uses for quick-and-dirty research, especially when it covers topics that Britannica does not. But Wikipedia has a chronically unfinished quality and is hampered by editorial politics and a sometimes debilitating insistence on “neutrality” (rather than objectivity); and it’s the luck of the draw whether a Wikipedia article is clear, well-written and informative or opaque and slovenly.

Britannica articles are, let us say, better vetted. Continuing access to the content via the iPad app is not free (the app itself is free), but two bucks a month is as close to free as it’s ever going to get. Certainly, that’s a better deal for most students and auto-didacts than print volumes that cost hundreds of bucks, cannot be regularly updated over the cyber waves, and cannot fit very comfortably into a backpack.

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5 Comments »

  1. [...] PRAISE FOR THE Britannica iPad App. [...]

    Pingback by Instapundit » Blog Archive » PRAISE FOR THE Britannica iPad App…. — October 29, 2011 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

  2. I sure hope this is going to be available on the Kindle Fire. $2 a month for Britannica is about as good as a deal gets, period.

    Comment by Tim McDonald — October 29, 2011 @ 10:31 pm | Reply

  3. I agree. It would be smart of Britannica to make their app available in every kind of mobile gadget. I’d like their encyclopedia to be extant and regularly updated for many years to come, and adapting to the new tech and reading habits while retaining their standards and wealth of content is the way to do that.

    Comment by davidmbrowndotcom — October 29, 2011 @ 10:37 pm | Reply

  4. LOL. Maybe the Instalanche will come once the blurb is repeated laconically in the Monday summary. :-)

    Comment by Tom — October 30, 2011 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

  5. Tom is referring to my tweet (which has now slid off the screen) complaining about my not getting one of the famed instalanches in consequences of the famed Instapundit’s posting a link to this post. Instead of pointing to “praise for Britannica app for the iPad,” Glenn should have said, “You will be shocked–SHOCKED!–by these comments about the Britannica app for the iPad!”

    Comment by davidmbrowndotcom — November 10, 2011 @ 8:19 pm | Reply


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