The Oxford University Press' CEO has sent shudders through every ink-stained wretch with his comment that the upcoming version of the Oxford English Dictionary might appear only in digital form. Nigel Portwood told The Sunday Times that the market for print dictionaries was "falling away by tens of percent a year." And when you consider that the OED third edition may be a decade away, you can understand his concern.
Of course, he's just stating the obvious. Plenty of free dictionaries (including the OED) are available in digital form, via computer and phone. And word processing programs commonly include a dictionary and thesaurus. Who has time to traipse over to a multi-volume dictionary to look up a word? And, dawg, who needs dead-tree versions when words change so fast? LOL. Still, there's a certain timelessness to Oxford and the OED -- whose previous editions were completed in 1928 and 1989. The next thing you know, they'll be wearing colored shirts and using electronic line judges at Wimbledon.
Portwood stressed that Oxford University Press has no plans to stop publishing print dictionaries, according to the Associated Press. Schools still rely primarily on printed versions, the publisher said, and demand for its best-seller, the Advanced Learner's Dictionary, is still high among nonnative English learners.
But I'll bet you a pint at The Bear that OED III never sees a printing press.