When I returned to Sri Lanka after competing my doctorate, I splurged some of our meager savings on my dream of owning a full set of the Encyclopedia Britannica, although it was really expensive. I used to enjoy looking things up and skimming through the pages. Unfortunately the turmoil in Sri Lanka in 1983 caused us to leave abruptly and leave all our stuff behind, so after enjoying the books for just a little over a year, I gave it away to friends with deep regret.
So I felt a twinge of sadness when I read that 2012 is going to be last hard copy edition, which you can buy for $1,395.
I suppose it has to be so. A printed encyclopedia in an information age seems like a dinosaur.