160 Miles of Words

1945_07_21--009-160 Miles of Words

THE SATURDAY 'WANING IN 172 8 BY %I I I..IITHALL An editor who will never be able to read everything in the publication he edits—because there is too much of it - is Walter Yust, of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He pays only two cents a word in cash, but plenty in prestige. 160 Miles of Words OLD friends of his newspaper days who drop in to see Walter Yust, editor of the Encyclo- 'media Britannica, usually remark with a conspiratorial smile in the first five minutes of their visit, "It must be pretty soft not to have to meet a dead line but once'every ten years or so." Mr. Yust, who has learned the fine qualities of patience and amassed a store of it in his lifetime, draws upon it at this point to smile forgivingly, though his eyes may be a little grim. The question is a partial but typical summation of public misinformation about the book which, more than any other in the English language, is designed to make an end of misinformation. Very few metropolitan newspapers have as many as ten dead lines a day. But old "E. B.," as its editors and other servants affectionately call the Britannica, has thousands of dead lines to meet a year—frequently twenty or mere a day. True, it doesn't meet them in the madhouse spirit of the average newspaper city room. It does it with the decorous poise you would expect of such a Jekyll of ancient wisdom and Hyde of modernity. But it meets them on time It took 3700 assorted experts— including Gene Tunney, Lord Macaulay and Henry Ford—to write the huge and influential work known as the Encyclopaedia Britannica. and as the result of infinite labor which may have started halfway around the world. The Encyclopaedia Britannica today, two years past its 175th-anniversary year, is at an all-time peak of giantism. Each year from 1937 to 1944 it sold in greater numbers than ever before in its history. Sales will level off this year, owing to the paper shortage. With its offspring, the Britannica Junior, the Year Book, the Five-Year Omnibus Year Book and the Atlas, it makes its publishers the largest publishers in volume of case-bound—thit is, stiff-backed— books in the world. Its influence is profound and William Smellie, first E. B. editor, without the whiskers Bobby Burns described.


1945_07_21--009-160 Miles of Words
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