Oxford English Dictionary may never be printed again

Aug 31, 2010

The next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, the word reference bible of the English language, may never appear in print and instead be accessible only online, its publisher said Tuesday.

A team of 80 lexicographers are preparing the third edition of the OED, but with more than a decade of work ahead of them and digital books fast gaining popularity, the publishers are hedging their bets on what format it will take.

"The first edition of the multi-volume Oxford English Dictionary was fully published in 1928, and the second edition in 1989," a spokeswoman for Oxford University Press said Tuesday.

"No decision has yet been made on the format of the third edition.

"It is likely to be more than a decade before the full edition is published, and a decision on format will be taken at that point."

Revised and new entries are published online every three months on OED Online, with the next version due to be published in December.

Sales of are fast catching up with print copies -- online retail giant Amazon announced last month that sales of electronic books for the Kindle e-reader had overtaken hardcover book sales for the first time.

However, Oxford University Press said it was confident that "large numbers of people continue to purchase dictionaries in printed form and we have no plans to stop publishing print dictionaries".

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User comments : 5

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TAz00
3.3 / 5 (3) Aug 31, 2010
Must be a publicity stunt.... Seriously, not printing the dictionary?
Birthmark
not rated yet Aug 31, 2010
We still need them in libraries and schools to rent out, especially if someone does not have access to a computer at home.
maxcypher
5 / 5 (2) Aug 31, 2010
Think about how fast media technology is changing. We have no clue what medium will be available in ten years. They are smart to hold off.
bottomlesssoul
not rated yet Aug 31, 2010
@birthmark, what about if they don't have a library in their village?

I say leave it online, 2 billion people have internet access only a billion or so have access to libraries.
frajo
not rated yet Sep 01, 2010
Books are visible to me and others even if not read, they are touchable, the carry the owner's personal annotations, they are an extension of his personality even after his death.
The relation between a book and his owner is much more personal as that with a display ever could be. You can open several books at the same time on your desk.
Books are irreplaceable and indispensable.