Dictionary Publishers Going Digital


The NY Times has a Story on plans from Houghton Mifflin, Merriam-Webster and Microsoft, and Oxford University Press (The OED Folks) to sell electronic versions of their dictionaries, in one form or another.

\"Stifled for years by low margins and flat sales, publishers are salivating over digital licensing as a new source of revenue growth and promoting new features like audible pronunciations. But word scholars worry that the new pressures of the online market may end up favoring well-connected or well-positioned dictionaries -- some sniffingly cite Microsoft\'s Encarta -- over more authoritative lexicons. \"More from the Times

Many lexicographers initially saw the advent of the Internet as a terrific new tool, especially because it made possible electronic texts of nearly infinite length. That impulse inspired the Oxford University Press, for example, to revise its 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary for the first time since its completion in 1928.

A new online version of the O.E.D. is available to subscribers for fees starting at $550 a year. Researchers are posting the revisions and additions online in stages, and they expect to finish the alphabet in about 40 volumes around 2010.

Oxford University Press has not yet decided if it will publish a new printed version, too, said Jesse Sheidlower, its American editor.

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