The World Book Encyclopedia
is an encyclopedia published in the United States. It is self-described as "the number-one selling print encyclopedia
An encyclopedia is a type of reference work, a compendium holding a summary of information from either all branches of knowledge or a particular branch of knowledge....
in the world." The encyclopedia is designed to cover major areas of knowledge uniformly, but it shows particular strength in scientific, technical, and medical subjects. It is based in Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...
. The first edition (1917) contained eight volumes. New editions have since appeared every year except 1920, 1924, and 1932, with major revisions in 1929 (13 volumes), 1947 (19 volumes), 1960 (20 volumes), and 1988 (new typeface and page design, and some 10,000 new editorial features).
The 1917 edition was published by the Hanson-Roach-Fowler Company, but within two years, World Book became the property of W.F. Quarrie & Company. In 1945, The World Book Encyclopedia became the property of Field Enterprises
Field Enterprises was a private holding company founded on August 31, 1944, by Marshall Field III and others whose main asset was the Chicago Sun. That same year the company acquired the book publishers Simon & Schuster and Pocket Books....
. In 1978, World Book was purchased by the firm of Scott Fetzer, which in turn is a Berkshire Hathaway
Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, United States, that oversees and manages a number of subsidiary companies. The company averaged an annual growth in book value of 20.3% to its shareholders for the last 44 years,...
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 students' work on school reports. For instance, every article for a U.S. 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-referencing and contains a large analytical index of more than 150,000 entries.
In 1961, World Book produced a Braille
The Braille system is a method that is widely used by blind people to read and write, and was the first digital form of writing.Braille was devised in 1825 by Louis Braille, a blind Frenchman. Each Braille character, or cell, is made up of six dot positions, arranged in a rectangle containing two...
edition, which filled 145 volumes and nearly 40,000 pages. The project was mainly an effort in goodwill, for the company did not see its way clear to 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
Academic American Encyclopedia is a 21-volume general English-language encyclopedia published in 1980. It was first produced by Arête Publishing, the American subsidiary of the Dutch publishing company VNU ....
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
Microsoft Windows is a series of operating systems produced by Microsoft.Microsoft introduced an operating environment named Windows on November 20, 1985 as an add-on to MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces . Microsoft Windows came to dominate the world's personal...
and Apple's Mac OS X
Mac OS X is a series of Unix-based operating systems and graphical user interfaces developed, marketed, and sold by Apple Inc. Since 2002, has been included with all new Macintosh computer systems...
. 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.
Apple included a bundled copy of the Mac OS X Edition of World Book Encyclopedia
when they made OS X the default operating system for all new computers. This edition had some Mac-only features including a more intuitive user interface, Sticky Notes sharing via Bonjour
In computing, Bonjour is Apple Inc.'s trade name for its implementation of Zeroconf, a group of technologies that includes service discovery, address assignment, and name resolution...
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
Software MacKiev is a company specialized in consumer and educational software development and publishing for Macintosh, Windows, and mobile platforms...
Associated publishing projects
Other World Book products include:
- The World Book Dictionary
The World Book Dictionary is a two volume English dictionary published as a supplement to the World Book Encyclopedia. It was originally published in 1963 under the editorship of Clarence Barnhart, who wrote definitions for the Thorndike-Barnhart graded dictionary series for children, based on the...
(1st edition in 1963)
- The World Book Cyclo-Teacher child self-learning aide system (sold in the 1960s)
- The World Book Student Discovery Encyclopedia,an encyclopedia for younger students (since 1999)
Childcraft is a multi-volume illustrated anthology for children, which originated in the late 1930s.-Origin and description:The Childcraft series was originally created in the 1930s by W. F. Quarrie & Company, then publishers of the World Book encyclopedia...
- World Book's Animals of the World.
- Our Living World of Nature book series; Developed with the U.S. Department of the Interior, published by McGraw-Hill
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., is a publicly traded corporation headquartered in Rockefeller Center in New York City. Its primary areas of business are financial, education, publishing, broadcasting, and business services...