1890 marked a turning point for publisher-bookseller Funk & Wagnalls, who since their founding in 1875 had been selling religious books. The letter below, on company letterhead, is dated May 21, 1890 and provides evidence that a shift in business models is underway.
Funk & Wagnalls enjoyed various levels of success well into the 20th century under changing ownership, but couldn't compete in print with the Internet and digital versions. Nor could the company they partnered with a century earlier. Funk & Wagnalls' last print edition of their encyclopedia set was published in 1997. Ironically, Microsoft used Funk & Wagnalls text for their initial digital version of an encyclopedia, but soon replaced that with their own content. Content from the Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia can still be found online through EBSCO Publishing, which provides content to educational institutions.
It was recently reported that the Encyclopedia Britanicca has ended its print run and will focus on their online business. For an interesting take on the demise of The Encyclopedia Britannica , as well as other print sets of encyclopedias, such as Funk & Wagnalls, read Wired writer Tim Carmody's March 14, 2012 article, Wikipedeia Didn't Kill Britannica, Windows Did.
And I can't let a post about Funk & Wagnalls end without a few vintage television references to their name. Readers old enough to remember know what's coming...
"These envelopes have been hermetically sealed. They've been kept in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnalls' porch since noon today." -Ed McMahon with Johnny Carson as Carnac the Magnificent on the Tonight Show.
The other comes from Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In: , where on a regular basis you could hear "Go look that up in your Funk and Wagnalls," and many other references, as seen here: