America’s best-selling reference book turns another page, as we do, on another year.
It’s first edition was published by The New York World Newspaper just three years after the conclusion of the U.S. Civil War and held 120 pages of information about everything from the era of Reconstruction to the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.
Sarah Janssen began working for The World Almanac nearly nine years ago having started as an intern while still in college. Today, she is the book’s senior editor.
“All my life I’ve been interested in a myriad of ‘things’ and topics,” Sarah said “and working on a book like The World Almanac allows me to surround myself with near innumerable subjects. Part of my job is paying attention to every different issue under the sun, whether it’s science, sports, history, pop culture…we’re sort of ‘required’ to know about it all, and it’s fun to look at the world that way.”
The World Almanac has been published for more than 140 years, and over time many modifications have occurred.
“Having been first published in 1868,” Sarah said “we have changed a lot. One of the most glaring recent changes is that in the past few years we’ve been doing an e-book version. You can download a version for your Kindle, your I-Pad….whatever your e-reader device may be. I think in the world in which we live, people are finding that access very handy and useful.”
With every passing year comes another 365 days of factual events, happenings, statistics, et cetera.
“People probably wonder how the book isn’t 3 stories tall, and how we maintain it,” she said “and it is always a challenge to provide new and essential information that wasn’t available ten years ago, but also keeping things in that people rely on being in The World Almanac, like a copy of the Constitution, a profile of every president, a profile of every nation in the world. And every year we always have the same number of pages (1008), so like I said, it’s a challenge deciding what we’re going to winnow down, what we may be able to do without for maybe a year or so. We do listen to our readers as to their wants and desires, what they’re missing, or is there something we’ve left out. It’s definitely an ongoing process every year.”
New for 2014!
“We have some great new features,” Sarah said “technology statistics in our computer section, a really great feature on trends in marriage in the U.S., we have a voter guide for the upcoming midterm election that covers everything from when your primary is going to take place to whether your state requires voter I.D. There’s also a fun feature to get you ready for the Winter Olympics which will be in February, we have a look back at our most memorable moments!”
With things as malleable as they are in the world, take voter I.D. as an example, the World Almanac electronic version will keep pace.
“The website is continually updated,” she said “because things do change. When your book has gone to print, and your deadline has passed, we often suffer from ‘eternal regret’ that we maybe weren’t able to get one thing or another into print. The web allows us another opportunity to stay as current as possible, and then next year there will be another print edition filled with the tools you need to learn from what happened in the year that passed.”
Old almanac favorites are making a comeback.
“The ‘Time Capsule’ which is always fun to put together, has returned as has the ‘offbeat and quirky’ less serious new stories of the year. I think people who pick up The World Almanac expect to see those types of things.”
There is also a children’s version which has been published since 1995 that is released toward the end of each summer.
“Just in time for back to school,” Sarah said “it covers a lot of the same subjects, but in a kid-engaging way…it’s in full color with lots of photos, a lot of looks at topics that interest kids in hopes of hooking them into flipping through the pages to see what else may interest them.”
Visit worldalmanac.com and on Twitter. You can also ask your local library if they subscribe to The World Almanac’ s web product which is a great resource for research.
Sarah Janssen is the Sr. Editor of the 2014 World Almanac