London: It`s been in print for over a
century, but in future the Oxford English Dictionary, the
authoritative guide to the English language may only be
available to peruse online.
Publisher Oxford University Press said today that
burgeoning demand for the dictionary`s online version has far
outpaced demand for the printed versions.
By the time the lexicographers behind the dictionary
finished revising and updating the latest edition -- a
gargantuan task that will take many more years -- publishers
are doubtful there will still be a market for the printed
The online Oxford English Dictionary now gets 2 million
hits a month from subscribers. The current printed edition, a
hefty 20-volume, USD 1,165 set published in 1989 has sold
about 30,000 sets in total.
"At present we are experiencing increasing demand for the
online product," a statement from the publisher said. "However
a print version will certainly be considered if there is
sufficient demand at the time of publication."
Nigel Portwood, Chief Executive of Oxford University
Press, told The Sunday Times in an interview he didn`t think
the newest edition will be printed. "The print dictionary
market is just disappearing, it is falling away by tens of per
cent a year," he said.
Although the comments relate primarily to the full-length
dictionary, the publisher says the convenience of the
electronic format is also affecting demand for its shorter