The next edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, the world’s most definitive work on the language, will never be printed because of the impact of internet on its printed book sales. It’s been in print for over a century but sales of the current edition of this authoritative guide to English have fallen due to the increasing popularity of online alternatives. Oxford University Press, the publisher, said on Sunday that burgeoning demand for the dictionary’s online version has far outpaced demand for the printed versions. (via)
The current printed edition for $ 1,165 which was published in 1989 – has sold about 30,000 sets in total. Whereas the most recent OED which has existed online for close to a decade now, receives two million hits a month from subscribers who pay an annual fee of $295.
Not only is this the case with Oxford, the print dictionary market overall is on a decline and is falling down by tens of percent each year. Convenience of accessing dictionaries on phones now, availability of different free versions of thesaurus on internet and lower subscription cost of popular dictionaries online are some of the key factors contributing towards this negative growth. To add to that, the advent of digital book readers and its soaring popularity across, can be added reasons for faster adoption even in case of lexicons.
Such announcement by 126 year old publishing giant definitely gives out signal towards the digital invasion in the world of print industry. It’s yet another sign that the speed and ease of using Internet reference sites, their ability to provide desired content at just one click are phasing out printed books. But whether printed books will be completely phased out by digital content or will digital remain as another content presentation format of printed books is yet to be decided as most of the publishers don’t see print to die down completely in coming years.