Archive for March, 1998
Chicago Tribune: Bound For Glory? The Venerable Encyclopaedia Britannica Struggles To Survive In An Electronic Age
Paul Hoffman is the publisher of Chicago-based Encyclopaedia Britannica and his office looks like it should. It’s in the stately Britannica Centre on Michigan Avenue. The large room is all lacquered wood and brown leather. There is a long bookshelf that holds the famous 32-volume Britannica. But there sits Hoffman, 41, wearing a Curious George T-shirt and blue jeans on a Thursday afternoon.
“Typical office wear,” he laughed. “I wear blue jeans and listen to Nirvana.” When he talks, he leans over his desk, smiles wildly, and stares at you with wide-open eyes. He was hired a little more than six months ago to transform this 230-year-old company from a slow and stodgy print publishing house into a hi-tech content provider for the information superhighway.
“We are in the digital age,” Hoffman stated, confidently. But competition in the digital age is brutal. Hoffman and Britannica are up against the big boys, like Microsoft and IBM. Britannica has the daunting task of trying to accomplish something no one has been able to do: make money selling information over the Internet.