End of print dictionaries at Macmillan

By November 5, 2012

Macmillan has announced that, from 2013, it will no longer be publishing dictionaries in book form. It will focus instead on its expanding range of digital resources. Michael Rundell, Editor-in-Chief of the Macmillan dictionary list, sees this as both inevitable and entirely positive. He regards the printed book as a very limiting medium, and increasingly out of step with the way people look for information in the second decade of the 21st century. While printed reference books are out of date as soon they go on sale, an online dictionary can be kept fully up to date. More than this, the digital medium allows dictionary publishers to provide valuable additional resources, like audio pronunciations, interactive games, and a thesaurus function. As well as all these, Macmillan has a crowd-sourced dictionary (the ‘Open Dictionary’) fed by users from all over the world, and an active blog with four or five new posts every week on language-related issues. Michael says he was struck by one of the findings reported at the recent Euralex Congress in Gilles-Maurice de Schryver’s plenary: his analysis of papers in the Euralex archive showed that the word ‘look up’ had declined in frequency and been overtaken by ‘search’. This is the world that dictionaries belong to now. For more details, see the post on this subject in Macmillan’s blog.