– The Oxford Dictionary has been in print for over a century, but it is now possible that this English language reference will only be available online.
Oxford University Press has stated that the growing market for the digital dictionary has far outstripped the interest for the printed version.
When experts finish reviewing the latest version, a laborious task that will take many years, publishers doubts there will be a market for the printed dictionary.
The digital version of the dictionary receives two million ”hits”a month from subscribers. The current printed edition sold about 30,000 20 book sets.
”We are currently experiencing a growing demand for the product online,” states the publisher. ”However, a printed edition will be considered if there is enough of a market to publishing it.”
Nigel Portwood, executive director of Oxford University Press, told the Sunday Times in an interview that he does not think that the next edition will be printed.
”The printed dictionary is simply disappearing in the market,” he said.
Although the comments are mainly directed at the complete 20 book version of the dictionary, the publisher said that the market for the digital edition is also affecting sales of its smaller dictionaries.
The first set of Oxford dictionaries were published in 1884. For decades it continued to grow until the full version was released in 1928. This was the first comprehensive English dictionary from ”A Dictionary of the English Language” by Samuel Johnson published in 1755. It has since become the English language reference for the meaning and use of its words.
The Oxford dictionary went online in 2000, promising users a quick way to look up words.