Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Internet killed the dictionary star

Falling sales and the growing popularity of online dictionaries mean the Oxford English Dictionary may never be printed again, its publisher says.

For over two decades, dozens of writers have been working on a book that will probably never grace a bookshelf. Online dictionaries have gained so much popularity over their printed counterparts that the next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary will probably appear only in electronic form, according to its publisher, the Oxford University Press.

"The print dictionary market is just disappearing, it is falling away by tens of per cent a year," Nigel Port wood, the chief executive of the Oxford University Press, told UK newspaper the Sunday Times. He told the UK newspaper he did not think the third edition would be printed.

The second and most recent OED has existed online for more than a decade, where it receives two million hits a month from subscribers who pay an annual fee of almost 300 Euros to access it.

Simon Winchester, author of The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary, said the Oxford University Press's move away from print editions of the dictionary "reflects an inevitability" and is part of a growing trend of readers moving away from printed books toward digital editions and electronic e-readers like the Kindle or the iPad.

"I think the electronic book is going to achieve ascendancy over the printed book, and I think that the printed book is just starting now to vanish," Winchester said. Though he owns three sets of the printed version of the Oxford English Dictionary, he said he relies on the digital version. "On my iPad, I've used the OED twice if not three times today. But I never ever go to the hardback version. It sits there on the shelf gathering dust, looking beautiful, but I never use it."

To read more: http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,5956974,00.html

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