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Impact Taking Britannica To New Markets

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True North's Impact Communications Group unit is readying a campaign backing a new push by Encyclopaedia Britannica to expand its retail sales.
Encyclopaedia Britannica this month is introducing a 12-volume Britannica Ready Reference set. Priced at about $500, it's meant to lure families put off by the $1,500 price tag on the company's flagship 32-volume reference classic.
Impact's advertising, including broadcast and direct mail, is expected to begin in late summer, before schools resume. Spending is estimated at $1-3 million.
Encyclopaedia Britannica last year made its initial foray into the retail market, offering the 32-volume set at bookstores in a distribution deal with Merriam-Webster. Prior to that, the company's marketing efforts had been limited solely to direct-to-customer programs backed by mail and direct response TV.
Merriam-Webster will also be handling distribution of the new, popular-priced Ready Reference volumes and the Britannica CD-ROM reference work, which retails for about $150.
The Ready Reference set consists of the first 12 volumes of the full encyclopaedia. It also includes the Britannica Year Book, covering important events of the prior year.
John Hallberg, Encyclopaedia Britannica's senior vice president for worldwide marketing, said the Ready Reference set demonstrates the company's continuing commitment to printed reference works as it continues to explore online and electronic media.
The Chicago-based company has already created Britannica Online (www.eb.com), a revenue-generating electronic reference Web site, and the Britannica Internet Guide (www.ebig.com), a free Web navigation service.
TN Technologies, a sister agency of Impact Communications Group, handles Encyclopaedia Britannica's interactive work.