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 online.
Oxford University Press, the publisher, said Sunday 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 finish 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 form. The online Oxford English Dictionary now gets 2 million hits a month from subscribers. The current printed edition — a hefty 20-volume, 750 pound ($1,165) set published in 1989 — has sold about 30,000 sets in total.