Internet wiping out printed Oxford Dictionary

Publisher Oxford University Press said Sunday that burgeoning demand for the dictionary’s online version has far outpaced demand for the printed versions. By the time the lexicographers behind the dictionary finished revising and updating the latest edition — a gargantuan task that will take many more years — publishers are doubtful there will still be a market for the printed form.

“At present we are experiencing increasing demand for the online product,” a statement from the publisher said. “However a print version will certainly be considered if there is sufficient demand at the time of publication.”

Nigel Portwood, chief executive of Oxford University Press, told The Sunday Times in an interview he didn’t think the newest edition will be printed. “The print dictionary market is just disappearing, it is falling away by tens of percent a year,” he said.;_ylt=ApzCZev2HpaxCGc8T4AZ7Oes0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTQzM3Ezc29lBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAwODI5L2V1X2JyaXRhaW5fZGljdGlvbmFyeV9zX2RlbWlzZQRjY29kZQNtb3N0cG9wdWxhcgRjcG9zAzEwBHBvcwM3BHB0A2hvbWVfY29rZQRzZWMDeW5faGVhZGxpbmVfbGlzdARzbGsDaW50ZXJuZXR3aXBp

I guess I am not surprised. Its been a long time since I have consulted a printed dictionary, although I do so online several times a week.

Perhaps this is is a sign of things to come. Will other references go out of print, and be available only in electronic form?

Are college textbooks still printed, or have they already gone to DVD and online? Surely doing that would bring down their costs.

Encyclopedias sales went down to near zero. Dictionaries will too, along with textbooks, thesauruses, and many other types of books as well.

I bought my textbooks yesterday. For Spanish, I had a choice between a $230 printed textbook and a $120 online one. The rest were all printed.

Ability to spell correctly unassisted is also dropping throughout the English speaking world and will continue to do so, is this what progress looks like?

I, for one, would like to see English go to a completely phonetic spelling, with one sound per letter, and one letter per sound. That way it wouldn’t matter whether one wrote “yur,” “yur,” or “yur.” “Tu,” “tu,” or “tu.” Who’s on board? :D:p


Ability to spell correctly unassisted is also dropping throughout the English speaking world and will continue to do so, is this what progress looks like?

Any printed text needs to offer something more than online sources. Before the Internet, printed text was a far greater form of communication because options were limited. Not so now. A dictionary in particular seems at risk because when you are writing today you are probably using an Internet connected computer (at least for many of us in the US). It is just faster to lookup definitions online.

Dictionaries will always be superior when teaching children about words in my opinion. The Dictionary and the Thesaurus are indispensable when you have young children.

We are in danger of becoming a nation of people who posses very little knowledge, instead completely relying on been able to instantly look things up.

But there are times when you need to know and can’t look things up, and if you don’t have knowledge in your head you cant make quick decisions.

One example of this occurred just recently to me at work. A supervisor never had time to produce a document on the computer so they had to quickly hand write a sheet, the spelling on it was atrocious and I am sure I was not the only one to notice.

The more most of the population rely on computers instead of their own brains the more valuable the few people who still make the effort to memorise and retain knowledge in their heads will become.

I see your point, but it seems mostly nostalgic. Computers are only tools and as tools become more effective and widespread they cause paradigm shifts. There is always some resistance to change but in time no one remembers the old way (except perhaps in history eBooks).

Along these lines, I learned to type on a manual typewriter. They were common, there were no such things as “personal computers” or word processors. Replacement ribbons, carbon paper, repair services, etc. were all readily available. They never “crashed” or lost our work. They operated without electric power. Yet, where are they today? There is many similar examples.

In the whole movement from paper to digital, it makes sense that the first casualty would be reference texts. Not many people read reference texts straight through. Rather, when they need to look something up, they go to that particular entry. It’s much quicker (and less expensive!) to google what you need to know rather than combing through a reference book.

I should hope that they at least publish a significant amount of paper copies for archival purposes, though. If not, we’d be in a bit of a pickle if the Digital Dark Age ever comes to pass.

Agreed. There’s spell checkers to check spelling and free online dictions to see definitions. Dead tree versions have become obsolete.

I wish. I’m budgeting around $800 for engineering textbooks (for 5 classes, as the 6th I have from a class last year). It’s always the latest greatest edition to boot, so finding used ones is near impossible. Textbook publishers have a monopoly and they exploit it to the greatest degree than can. :mad:

Don’t you mean, “There are [plural] many similar examples**”?

Thanks for demonstrating why paper books like dictionaries still serve a purpose. FWIW, I don’t think those pocket-sized 99-cent-store dictionaries are going anywhere any time soon. Large reference items, yes; mass-marketed books, no.

Correction:** There are [plural] spell checkers.
Eeegads! Does nobody use proper English grammar anymore…! :confused:

Proper grammar are for losers!

That was a brain fart. I would have been going for there’re. Although, there’s has become popular usage for both “there is” and “there are”. Of course, technical papers I write do not contain any contractions at all. Communication on a message board is also informal by definition (although above text messaging language).

This thread reminds me of one of Arthur C. Clarke’s later books, called The Light of Other Days. In it, everyone has implants inside their brains that allow them to call up the universal Search Engine and get any information they need, directly into their minds. With the wireless networks we already have, and phones doing everything, all it takes is a couple more orders of miniaturization, and we are there. And people will do it, because they are sick of losing their phones! Scary, huh? :o

I have read a number of sci-fi works in which people have similar capabilities. And yeah, it’s scary.


Whoops. Quite sloppy. A cheap printed dictionary would not have helped whereas good, integrated grammar checking software would have. It actually demonstrates my point!

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