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Britannica Brings Great Books of the Western World to E-Book Format

Posted Feb 10, 2009
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Great Books of the Western World, the 60-volume set of classics published by Encyclopaedia Britannica, is now available to libraries, universities and schools in electronic form and distributed exclusively through Ingram Digital’s MyiLibrary aggregated e-book platform.


Fully searchable and interlinked, the electronic-book edition of the set enables readers to find anything in the corpus with a keyword search, making it easier to navigate and conduct research on the contents of the set, in addition to reading in the conventional way, according to the announcement.


The product also contains a complete set of hypertext links between the Syntopicon, the two-volume idea index to the Great Books, and the places in the main text that the Syntopicon entries refer to.


The Syntopicon is a distinctive reference tool organized around a list of 102 "Great Ideas" developed by the late philosopher Mortimer J. Adler. It enables readers to move among the works of great authors such as Homer, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and others, and navigate through the threads of particular concepts, such as happiness, liberty, and truth, reviewing and comparing the specific things each author had to say about them. The links from the Syntopicon entries to their targets in the books themselves allow readers to move about the set quickly and easily, without having to move between physical volumes.


Students and faculty at subscribing institutions and patrons of subscribing libraries will be able to access the Great Books from their home computers as well as at the institutions themselves. They’ll be able to print out portions for easy reading.


Great Books of the Western World was first published in 54 volumes by Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., in 1952. That first edition was edited by Robert Maynard Hutchins, then chancellor of the University of Chicago, and Mortimer J. Adler. The second, current edition, revised by Adler to include more recent works, was published in 60 volumes in 1990. The current set includes 517 of the most important works in literature, history, philosophy, and science from the past 25 centuries. The electronic e-book edition of the Great Books contains the same contents as the printed version.


Schools or libraries interested in Great Books of the Western World e-book edition can go to for more information.

Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc.,

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