Through an arrangement with Orion Publishing Group imprint Victor Gollancz, the third edition of the massive Encyclopedia—first published in 1979—will launch later this year in online digital format only. About 75% of the projected final content will be available at launch, with the remainder to be added through 2012, for an estimated total of 3 million words. Although the book will be freely accessible and evolving through monthly updates, it won’t be crowdsourced or editable.
As to why Gollancz is footing the bill for this, an Orion executive told FutureBook that the publisher has some sort of “not entirely altruistic” reason for sponsoring the Encyclopedia. (I hope he twirled his moustache as he said that.) Also: “There are other announcements we are planning to make that clearer next week. […] We explored various paywall options and we realised none of them were really practical with the way that the web is moving.”
He also said that if demand is great enough, Gollancz would consider a print edition, but current plans are to keep it online.