Posts Tagged ‘Oxford English Dictionary’

More News about Digital Content

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

Did you hear what’s happening with your dictionary and the espresso machine?

Recent articles in the Wall Street Journal brought to light changes in content delivery that are impacting an old traditional publication and how on-demand paperbacks are going direct to the consumer.

The Oxford English Dictionary may not be printed again.  This is a 126-year-old dictionary.  According to the WSJ, the online version of the dictionary gets 2 million hits a month from subscribers.  The cost of the online subscription is $295.  The full printed version is 20 volumes and weighs 130lbs.  The cost is $1,165 and has sold 30,000 sets since being published in 1989.

With its online subscription and the availability of free sites like, your “oxford” is your laptop or smart phone.  This is another example of a business model that has been turned on its head by the digital world.  It will be interesting to see how Oxford University Press, publisher of the dictionary, evolves its business.  Old reference books that have gone online like Encyclopedia Britannica have fallen far behind Google and Wikipedia as online reference tools.

Another change in the traditional world of books is the on-demand book. These on-demand books are not produced at the printer but at the bookstore thru what some have called an “ATM device for books”. One of the direct to consumer printing machines available is called the Espresso Book Machine.  It is manufactured by the New York firm On Demand Books, LLC and has sold 51 machines so far placed in 50 locations. The fully configured machines cost between $100,000 – 150,000.

A three hundred-page book produced by these new on-demand machines can be printed, trimmed and bound within 4 minutes at a cost of pennies per page.   On Demand Books claims access to over four million public domain titles provided in part through a partnership with Google for access to public domain titles and Ingram Content Group for in-copyright titles.  If you’re in the Boston area, you can check it out at the Coop in Cambridge.

According to Interquest Research Group, digitally printed books currently represent about 4% of the market and are expected to grow to 15% by 2015.

Okay.  So how will the evolving world of digital content impact how you manage your business in the digital world?