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The World Book Encyclopedia, published in the United States, is self-described as the "the number-one selling print encyclopedia in the world." The encyclopedia is designed to cover major areas of knowledge uniformly, but it shows particular strength in some fields. It is based in Chicagomarker, Illinoismarker. The first edition (1917) contained eight volumes. New editions have since appeared every year except 1920, 1924, and 1932, with major revisions in 1930 (13 volumes), 1947 (18,000 illustrations), 1960 (20 volumes), and 1988.Kobasa, Paul A. "Encyclopedia." World Book Online Reference Center. 2008. [Place of access.] 13 Jan. 2008 />

Field Enterprises published World Book from 1944 to 1984. World Book, Inc., is a subsidiary of the Scott Fetzer Company, which in turn is a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary.


Over the years the World Book has been characterized by its design. Unlike most other encyclopedias, it is traditionally published in nonuniform volumes sized to match the letters of the alphabet. Although most volumes cover exactly one letter completely, the letters with exceptionally numerous entries ("C" and "S") are divided between two volumes, while adjacent letters with relatively few entries ("J"–"K", "N"–"O", "Q"–"R", "U"–"V", and "W"–"Z") share a volume. World Book editors lay out major articles distinctly, often starting them on a page of their own, perhaps with a two-column heading. The World Book is marketed as a "family" encyclopedia for readers above 15 years of age. It recognizes that one of the primary uses of general-purpose encyclopedias is student's work on school reports. For instance, every article for a U.S.marker state has a box giving information about such things as the official state bird and tree.

It claims to be the most up-to-date commercial encyclopedia, with thirty-three percent of its pages revised each year. Illustrations account for about one third of the layout, and some eighty percent are in color. The encyclopedia makes heavy use of cross-reference contains a large analytical index of more than 150,000 entries

Alternative editions

In 1961, World Book produced a braille edition, which filled 145 volumes and nearly 40,000 pages. The project was mainly an effort in goodwill, for there was no expectation of selling enough copies of the set to cover production costs. Eventually, all sets of the Braille edition were donated to several institutions for the blind. In 1964, the company also published a large-print edition.

An electronic version of the encyclopedia for Macintosh and Windows computers first appeared in 1990, but didn't have as much impact as the only other CD-ROM encyclopedia available at that time, Academic American Encyclopedia.

An international version, aimed at English-speakers outside of North America, was also produced in 1992.

Since 1998, in addition to the print and CD-ROM editions of the 22-volume, 13,800-page encyclopedia, World Book also publishes an online version called the World Book Online Reference Center. The online version includes all of the articles contained in the print set as well as several thousand additional articles and the contents of every yearbook World Book has published since 1922.

Digital multimedia encyclopedia

World Book Encyclopedia is also published in electronic form for Microsoft Windows and Apple's Mac OS X. Electronic editions contain the entire text of the 22-volume World Book Encyclopedia, plus illustrations, video clips, 3D panoramic views, and sounds. The articles bring together a complete story, multimedia content, an article outline, research aids and links to related information. Online updates to articles and Month in Brief time browser are available by subscription.

Applemarker until recently bundled a copy of the Mac OS X Edition of World Book Encyclopedia with every consumer-level computer sold . This edition has some Mac-only features including a more intuitive user interface, Sticky Notes sharing via Bonjour technology, Trivia Challenge game, collection of editor-approved webcams, Notepad, Speech capabilities, "This Day in History", "Media Showcase" and "Librarian" widgets.

Since November 2007, both Windows and Mac electronic editions of World Book encyclopedia are developed and published by Software MacKiev.jafkdaskfioef fadifdjfhdfjwererer

Associated publishing projects

Other World Book products include:

See also


  1. "About World Book." Accessed 24 June 2008.
  4. Scott Kennedy, Reference Sources for Small and Medium-sized Libraries (1999) p. 27.
  5. Foster Stockwell, A History of Information Storage and Retrieval (2001) p. 137.
  6. World Book


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