Magazine article Marketing

My Encyclopedia Is Dead, Long Live My Shiny CD-ROM

Magazine article Marketing

My Encyclopedia Is Dead, Long Live My Shiny CD-ROM

Article excerpt

Forgive, if you will, a moment of nostalgia. Our 24-volume set of Encyclopaedia Britannica is on its way to a car-boot sale. The red mock-leather edition, circa 1956, can no longer justify its shelf space and it seems there is absolutely no market in secondhand book shops for out-of-date encyclopaedias - the ones which tell you a bit about the Compton effect on X-rays and a great deal on Auguste Comte, the French philosopher, but nothing under 'C' for computers. Instead, volume six helpfully advises "Computing Machines: see Mathematical Instruments".Then there are the year books designed to keep the thing bang up to date, which is how I know that on June 30, 1957, there were a total of 384,075 aliens registered in the US.

For years it's been gathering dust, protected by an almost superstitious reluctance to dump books, any books really, but particularly ones containing all the knowledge in the world. But mostly, the near-useless things survived because of the guilt that at the age of ten I had succumbed to a subtle marketing campaign that had cost my parents money they could ill afford in the mistaken belief that a 24-volume set of encyclopaedias had something to do with passing the 11-plus. Fear, when combined with educational aspiration, always works as a marketing tool in the minds of parents.

Was it the free gift of a pen that drew attention to the ad in John Buchan's Football Monthly and led me to fill in the coupon that brought the smooth Encyclopaedia Britannica salesman to our door in a small Ulster town? …

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