Monday, August 30, 2010

OED going all digital?

Here's a careless bit of writing:

The Oxford English Dictionary, as legendary as it is heavy, is facing a bleak future as there's not much of a market these days for a reference book that weighs 130 pounds.

The dictionary's publisher, Oxford University Press, said that the OED's online version gets two million hits a month. And that's from users who pay $295 a year to be able to access the exhaustive word list.
The point, of course -- and the article does get this right, despite those poorly-paired paragraphs -- is that the OED is doing just fine. In fact, it might be doing even better now that its clumsy technological limitations have been overcome. People are using the OED.

That $295/year, by the way, is the subscription rate for individuals and I expect most of those 2 million hits are coming from academic institutions who pay more, but provide most of the users. It's true that the OED online will never inspire the same awe as the rows and rows of hardbound volumes did -- but dammit, now everyone can use the thing!

1 comment:

Heather said...

I don't blame then in the least for opting for online-only. You're right, it's not a failure at all! I will miss the actual print volumes, though. I still kind of wish I could be settled enough in a place that I could own all 20 volumes, in print, and flip through them whenever I wanted...oh well, it's not like I don't work in a library.