Beautifully crafted, but...,
This review is from: 2003 WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA - COMPLETE SET - 22 BOOKSI bought a set of the World Book Encyclopaedia about 10 years ago, paying a huge sum of Rs.35,000 at that time. Later I found out that the local salesperson had cheated me, by telling me that a CD version was not available. Actually, the CD version is much cheaper, almost 1/20th the price, and easier to use. However, you don't get the same sense of satisfaction from the CD version.
These books are beautifully crafted (I have an edition bound in leather, and edged in gold) and are a joy to behold and refer to. They take up a lot of shelf space though, and it's a bit cumbersome to locate information, especially now that we are all so used to clicking across an ocean of cross-references. Nevertheless, there is a special charm to rummaging through these books, and I have spent many leisurely afternoons flipping through them. I have also picked up many useful items of information at times, for use in my work. The illustrations, and drawings are simply superb. The entries are written with a nice flow, neither too technical, nor too verbose. However, you must keep in mind that this product is primarily designed for school students, and may not be useful for any serious work.
The only worries that I have are about the reliability of information. For instance, I found that a river in Arunachal Pradesh (India) has been named wrongly, and the people of the region do not recognise the name at all. Similarly, in the entry related to Lord Shri Ram, worshipped by millions of Hindus, there is no mention that he is viewed as divinity by Hindus. This obviously raises doubts whether information related to other cultures or topics is also erroneous.
This kind of errors could be on account of the selection of biased writers (I saw Mr. K.N. Pannikar on the advisory board), or it could be on account of simple errors that anyone could make. Unfortunately, the problem is compounded by the non-responsive attitude of World Book editors. For instance, I wrote to them a couple of time on e-mail, pointing out these discrepancies, but there was no response.
Overall, a beautifully crafted product, one that you will love to own. I only wish that the information in between the binding was as reliable as the binding itself!
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