These were very expensive to middle-lower Middle Class. Many people bought them separately, alphabetically or in some other fashion. Many times the set was incomplete because of cost vs actual use. I had a single parent when child support was not enforced so there was just not enough money. I spent days looking through a single book when given the opportunity. As a gifted student, without financial resources I would have relished any way to get information.
A sense of wonder was lost when Encyclopedia Britannica ended its print edition. Those big books are just a thing of the past now that everyone has access to the Internet. We knew that it was going to happen eventually but it is still sort of sad to see it happen.
Contemporary children and teenagers have had internet access since they were born. Few of them even had the experience of looking up items in print encyclopedias. For them, wonder is in looking things up on online encyclopedias. It is impossible, therefore, for anything to be lost when the current younger generations never had it to begin with.
People will always have a sense of wonder, they just will have their curiosity satisfied in different ways, and using different sources. Wonder didn't die when Encyclopedia Britannica stopped printing. Many people didn't have access to them when they were in print, yet they still wondered, and learned. An Encyclopeida is not necessary to have a sense of wonder.
I don't think so. The print edition was so expensive to buy that I think very few people really had an opportunity to read it or wonder at it, outside of a library. It also got out of date so quickly that you couldn't really trust everything you read in it anymore. I think it lacked a sense of wonder at the end.
What was exciting about Encyclopedia Britannica was that it opened up the world to people. However, it didn't go away because people were no longer interested in the type of information it contained, it went away because there are now so many more outlets for people to find this information through the internet.