The Dictionary Market: Getting Your Words' Worth
In fact, as far back as 2003, when Merriam-Webster launched that year's edition of the "Collegiate Dictionary," it was simultaneously introduced in print form, in online form, as a CD-ROM, as a handheld dictionary and in a downloadable format. The idea, according to Morse, was "to say to everyone that this is the way the world is going to go from now on, and we're ready to embrace that."
And embrace it they have, especially within the confines of every publisher's most valuable marketing tool: the Internet. Both Merriam-Webster and OED, in fact, have managed to transform websites that could have easily been dreadfully dull into electronic destinations that are educational and extraordinarily sticky. Merriam-Webster's "Ask the Editor" series, for instance, regularly presents two-minute videos that make etymology fascinating. On the OED website, images of historic documents are often used as lead-ins to teach visitors about the company's rich heritage. The Oxford University Press, meanwhile, maintains an active collection of documentary-style YouTube videos, many of them offering an insider's account of life as an OED employee.
As the OUP's Katherine Martin so eloquently puts it, "We're far from having gotten to the end of how the dictionary is going to evolve. And that's what I think is really interesting: We're not tied to the alphabetic rubric anymore. We can throw that away. People can access a definition to a word in a million ways." BB
Dan Eldridge is the editor of NAPCO's TeleRead.com.
Dan Eldridge is a journalist and guidebook author based in Philadelphia's historic Old City district, where he and his partner own and operate Kaya Aerial Yoga, the city's only aerial yoga studio. A longtime cultural reporter, Eldridge also writes about small business and entrepreneurship, travel, and the publishing industry. Follow him on Twitter at @YoungPioneers.