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August 30, 2010 12:58 PM   Subscribe

The third edition of the OED will not come out in print -- or will it?
posted by angrycat (75 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is sort of non-story, though, isn't it? I mean, basically, they're saying it'll be at least 10 years before the thing is published, and they don't know what the dominant and / or appropriate medium will be 10 years from now, so they'll decide then. Not exactly earth-shattering.
posted by dersins at 1:01 PM on August 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


I would hate for future generations to never feel the joy of thumping open the Compact Edition. That thing is awesome.
posted by brundlefly at 1:02 PM on August 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


Both articles pretty much point ot them saying "I don't think so" about whether the OED which is due out in ten years will be in print, but also say "...a decision on format will be taken at that point." As much as I love my 20 volume OED, it's impractical. I love the idea of having a keyword searchable version, though my guess is we'll see some subscription version and not a version you can flat-out buy. I wonder if in ten years there will be a way to buy, not just license, digital content.
posted by jessamyn at 1:02 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


You got the 20-vol OED? Can I come over? Seriously, I love poring through the onionskin pages finding esoteric words. Big fun!
posted by Mister_A at 1:08 PM on August 30, 2010


You got the 20-vol OED?

Even better, I got it out of a dumpster. I mean, I knew it was there, but basically it was weeded from a university library collection [where it was a multiple] where they were forbidden by law to sell it because it was state property. I sleep next to the thing. I think it gives me interesting dreams.
posted by jessamyn at 1:11 PM on August 30, 2010 [34 favorites]


This is sort of non-story, though, isn't it?

You don't get it. The OED is more than just another bit of publishing. It is a monument. A thing to be cherished. A thing which may be less cumbersome on line, but somehow less, well, real. Their decision may be years away, but for those of us who still don't have but seriously want the whole huge thing, eventually, some day, when there's money and space, maybe in ten years, it is a matter to follow with some interest.

Some people are lucky enough to have original plates, and if anyone knows where I can get a hold of one, drop me a line and I will put in a good word for your karma quotient.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:12 PM on August 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


I would hate for future generations to never feel the joy of thumping open the Compact Edition. That thing is awesome.

It is until your eyesight starts to go....
posted by IndigoJones at 1:13 PM on August 30, 2010


Shouldn't there be dramatic music?
posted by tommasz at 1:13 PM on August 30, 2010


I'm all for a complete transition to a digital format, but I can't help this slight nagging feeling that some materials, especially reference materials, should at least have a small, tax-deductible print run specifically for libraries and universities for at least the next few hundred years.

One very bad solar flare, CME, or even a deliberate, wide-scale EMP attack, and there goes almost all of the non-military internet.

Granted, if that should occur, I would have more pressing matters than the correct spelling of Okeechobee, I would like to make sure I could look up a physical copy of the latest terms and information related to mechanics, farming, and electronics.

It is an extreme example, I admit, but if my profession has taught me anything about life, it's "don't trust electronics; and if you have to, have a backup plan when they fail, because they always will."
posted by chambers at 1:18 PM on August 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


IndigoJones: "A thing which may be less cumbersome on line, but somehow less, well, real."

What reality is there to works outside of a context?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:19 PM on August 30, 2010


I have a friend who has a job as an editor of the OED, doing the research required for adding new words. (he got to do the definition for the rude version of "bell end") Sadly, he does not appreciate the power he has.
posted by Eumachia L F at 1:19 PM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


*words
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:21 PM on August 30, 2010


Even better, I got it out of a dumpster.

That is even better. I have this mental image of you pushing this wheelbarrow full of words through the streets of Vermont City, the capital of Vermont, on a blustery moonlit autumn evening.
posted by Mister_A at 1:25 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've got the 20-volume OED as well, in perfect condition (still in dust jackets), and if you're in Chicago or Chicagoland, you can help me pay my grad school tuition: I'm selling it for $650 (as Mad Magazine says - CHEAP!). You can't find it anywhere for less.

</shameless, desperate sales pitch>

(Mods, if this is against the rules, delete away.)
posted by tzikeh at 1:28 PM on August 30, 2010


I used to get daily emails from the oed, due to my deep attachment to the onion skin experience, and it was surprisingly tiresome. I hope they never go entirely online. There is nothing like an actual, tangible, enormous dictionary. I love flipping my ancient copy on its old wooden stand, seeing to what random new word that will take me.
posted by bearwife at 1:30 PM on August 30, 2010


Mister_A, you do know that the capital of Vermont is the Ben and Jerry's factory, right?
posted by madcaptenor at 1:30 PM on August 30, 2010


Seriously, though, I was one of those kids who read the dictionary. Or at least when I looked up a word would see lots of interesting words around it. My vocabulary is probably larger because of that.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:31 PM on August 30, 2010


Even better, I got it out of a dumpster. I mean, I knew it was there, but basically it was weeded from a university library collection [where it was a multiple] where they were forbidden by law to sell it because it was state property. I sleep next to the thing. I think it gives me interesting dreams.

I like you.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:31 PM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


What reality is there to words outside of a context?

I'd answer if I understood the question.

Mostly I was trying to express was my general unease with the eworld. As chambers so nicely nails it, "don't trust electronics; and if you have to, have a backup plan when they fail, because they always will."

Moreover, they are mutable and untrustworthy. If I have the hardcover on my shelf, it is safe from any of the new whims of the on line editors. It is safe from power outages and cable failures. It is always available for every quick question without my having to turn on the damn computer. And as my reading time and dinner table talk time is generally not the same as my on line time, that makes a difference.

The twenty volumes are my desired back up plan. And more often than not, my first plan.

And of course, the aesthetic of paper, it's touch and smell, is a whole lot nicer than that of plastic.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:32 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


You got the 20-vol OED?

Damn, I thought mine was robbery ($100 at a thrift store, decent shape other than the two that seem to have been used as doorstops or something), but Jessamyn's steal is even better.
posted by rokusan at 1:35 PM on August 30, 2010


I was reading this earlier, and the more I think about it, the more I bet that there will, in some form, be a printed version. Even if it is just a limited run of a few thousand editions, which sell at a premium to collectors.

It's just too awesome a thing to not exist in some physical version.
posted by quin at 1:39 PM on August 30, 2010


The doubtfulness of a printed Third Edition has been assumed pretty much since they began compiling one. It would be something like 50 volumes.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:54 PM on August 30, 2010


If I was a tree, I'd be pretty gung-ho about getting turned into the OED.
posted by Mister_A at 1:55 PM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


You don't get it.

Maybe YOU don't get it. People can have gigantic word-boners for the OED and still have no desire for the actual books that the information is contained in.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:56 PM on August 30, 2010


50 volumes of huzzah, Joe Beese. 50 volumes of huzzah.
posted by Mister_A at 1:57 PM on August 30, 2010


But will it blend?
posted by sparkletone at 2:01 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've always wanted a fairly comprehensive database/data-structure of words in English. Not just a word list, but a full structure. For a given word, have a list of meanings, IPA pronunciations, etymologies, and so forth. I sometimes wonder if the release of such structured information would count enormously towards more practical, reachable AI.

Getting everyone to pay for it is another matter.
posted by adipocere at 2:05 PM on August 30, 2010


Slight derail... I really think we should all standardi[s/z]e on acronyms without the [fullstops/periods].

I read "Oed" and "OED" differently (one has me attempting a proper noun I'm unfamiliar with "owe'ed?" and the other is recogni(s/z)able as an acronym).

The [fullstops/periods] in "O.E.D." seem needlessly redundant.
posted by vectr at 2:07 PM on August 30, 2010


Don't get me wrong. A printed Third would be a fetish object beyond price. At least, beyond any price I'll ever be able to afford. They certainly ought to run off one presentation copy for King William, to whom it will presumably be dedicated. (Charles might live to see it done. But it'll be a stretch.)

But jessamyn is right. An electronic version is vastly superior for the work's stated purpose.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:09 PM on August 30, 2010


> It is a monument. A thing to be cherished. A thing which may be less cumbersome on line, but somehow less, well, real.

> It's just too awesome a thing to not exist in some physical version.

> I love flipping my ancient copy...


This is a vinyl records thread, right?
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:25 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't know much, but I do know that True Blood's Russel Edgington would have to have a 50 vol OED
posted by angrycat at 2:40 PM on August 30, 2010


Jesus, I Googled to figure out how many volumes my OED was [instead of, you know, walking in to the other room] and it turns out it's the 1933 edition and hence, shorter. Color me chagrined.
posted by jessamyn at 2:47 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damn, I thought mine was robbery ($100 at a thrift store, decent shape other than the two that seem to have been used as doorstops or something), but Jessamyn's steal is even better.

Just imagine how James Nicoll would acquire one... Presumably it would involve chasing lexicographers down a dark alley, and somehow leave him with a hideous injury.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:53 PM on August 30, 2010


The thing about electronic dictionaries is that their designers rarely think to include serendipity. How often do you just page through a regular dictionary to get to one word, read the definition, and then close the dictionary? Not very often, in my experience. You pause to read all the words you don't know that catch your eye along the way. I look forward to the day when this happens for electronic dictionaries too. (Only it better not be by forcing me to click through mocked-up page layouts.)
posted by No-sword at 2:54 PM on August 30, 2010


Jesus, I Googled to figure out how many volumes my OED was [instead of, you know, walking in to the other room] and it turns out it's the 1933 edition and hence, shorter. Color me chagrined.

On the one hand, fewer volumes is definitely less cool. On the other hand, older is cooler.

I am so conflicted.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:54 PM on August 30, 2010


But if they stop publishing the OED then words will no longer have meaning.

Gre dsfkl giorld fghasew bsgw ba s qweiu dhj.
posted by GuyZero at 2:55 PM on August 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


> You don't get it.

Oh, please. If I had to save one book in a fire, it would probably be my Compact Edition. Nobody loves the OED more than I do. But "Plans for Print-Free Oxford Dictionary Aren’t Fully Defined" is pretty much the definition of a non-story.
posted by languagehat at 3:11 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


There should be no online versions, no paper versions. Only a 50GB pdf file on an SD card.

In your wallet.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:17 PM on August 30, 2010


You just know they're gonna do it Kindle-only, the fuckers.

(As long as we're speculating about non-news.)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:20 PM on August 30, 2010


It's not expected to be completed until 2037. Today's e-readers will be as antique then as an IBM PCjr is now.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:33 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Today's e-readers will be as antique then as an IBM PCjr is now.

Chiclet keyboard, cold dead hands, etc.
posted by GuyZero at 3:52 PM on August 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


By 2037 we'll all be speaking l33t.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:59 PM on August 30, 2010


it turns out it's the 1933 edition and hence, shorter.

For years I was envious of your OED dumpster find. The 1933 I got at a library sale for $22.50, so I'm finally over it.
posted by Zed at 4:00 PM on August 30, 2010


And all this time I thought you were a romantic.. So sad, so sad.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:06 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have always wanted (and continue to want) the full 20 volume set. I even bought a book about a guy who read through the OED (unfortunately it turned out to be even more boring than it sounds).

But as much as I love thumbing through the pages of an OED, and still want a physical set, I would probably use and enjoy an internet version of the OED even more.

Unfortunately their online subscription is very expensive at nearly $300/year. I could almost imagine paying the full cost of the print edition for a lifetime online subscription to the OED. But otherwise, it just doesn't make sense for even your average OED lover. You'd end up paying upwards of $3k per decade, every decade, until you died - or worse, until you reached retirement and could no longer afford it on your fixed income.

I always figured they priced their online subscription so high because they wanted to steer people towards buying the printed edition. But apparently not. If they get rid of the printed edition and keep the same extremely high annual subscription costs, it's hard to imagine them still being in business in another 20 to 30 years.

Oh, and even the best of the tiny abridged iPhone versions was a complete waste of money. Clunky interface and a vocabulary so small that I was routinely looking up words for which it didn't have definitions. It also contained little to none of the word's etymology, which is the core appeal of the OED. The free Dictionary.com app almost always did a better job on both counts (again, just talking iphone apps... but still)
posted by Davenhill at 4:13 PM on August 30, 2010


If they get rid of the printed edition and keep the same extremely high annual subscription costs, it's hard to imagine them still being in business in another 20 to 30 years.

Well, consider the customer base. As with the hard copy, it's not the man in the street (save the odd enthusiast such as you and me), it's the academic and corporate library, who will sort of have no choice. Falls in the category of academic journals, which can also be monstrously expensive.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:22 PM on August 30, 2010


In case anyone else was wondering what I was wondering, the Second Edition in print is $995, new ($6295 for the blue leather ones). Each of the three Additions volumes will set you back another $70.

The CD ROM (PC and MAC) is $295.95. It apparently includes all three of the three additions volumes, plus 7,000 more words.

Here's an interesting thing, davenhill: The CD is not needed to use the dictionary. All the data is dumped to a hard drive during install. It probably wouldn't be too hard to drop it all into a Dropbox folder and give yourself access to it anywhere you have an internet connection.
posted by notyou at 4:26 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the OED has a really big problem which has nothing to do with choosing a format.

It has very diminshed copyright control over the feature which makes it so uniquely valuable as a reference, namely, the section of an entry for a word that gives examples of use of the word in publication over time, because almost all the works it cites are themselves out of copyright, and even if they are not, citing them for lexicographic purposes would probably fall under fair use if anything would.

Right now you could probably come up with a more comprehensive set of examples of usage with the right kind of search of the Google Books database, or Project Gutenberg's, and that's discernibly more true with every passing day. In five years, the database search will have an overwhelming advantage.

I personally find the part of the entry where they offer their own definition of a word by an anonymous editor in an indeterminate year dispensable. Often it seems to be more what the editor thinks the word should mean rather than offering a distillation of usage based upon the cited sources.

I think the idea that a word actually has a standard definition has been a useful delusion given the limitations of our access to published materials in previous generations, but that we are now in position to be able to move beyond that delusion.

I doubt the OED will be a going concern in ~10-15 years.
posted by jamjam at 4:40 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


IndigoJones: " If I have the hardcover on my shelf, it is safe from any of the new whims of the on line editors. It is safe from power outages and cable failures."

But not from fire (cf Library of Alexandria).
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:40 PM on August 30, 2010


IndigoJones: " If I have the hardcover on my shelf, it is safe from any of the new whims of the on line editors."

Also, if you anticipate not trusting the editors of the OED to tell you what words are words and what words aren't words later, you really don't have any reason to trust them now. Which is a fine choice to make, but any dictionary you buy is inherently the subjective view of a bunch of people in a room.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 4:42 PM on August 30, 2010


With the rate that e-readers and on-demand book printers are improving, it wouldn't surprise me if all books are online only in 10 years -- except that they'll be printed and mailed to you with a nice binding for a little extra. Everyone will be happy. (Except the book designers who can't justify gorgeous layout and typography for display-independent content -- but I'm hoping they'll find salvation in some kind of conditional markup or something.)

One major step along this path will be when Amazon abandons warehouses in favor of book printers housed at your nearest FedEx distribution center. I'm calling this now, so don't patent it, OK?

Here's an interesting question: will the idea of reference book "editions" still have meaning if each update can be available instantly? Will we always just read the most up-to-date version, like Wikipedia? Or will we have bleeding edge, beta, and stable versions of dictionaries and textbooks, like we do with software? I like the idea that students could transparently upgrade to any textbook in the 2.* branch, but if they want to upgrade to 3.0 you'll have to update your lesson plan ...
posted by jhc at 5:27 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


FINE! I don't want the goddamn OED. Never. Ever.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:44 PM on August 30, 2010


I love the OED.

If I had jessamyn's set it would be the treasure of my book collection.
posted by jamjam at 6:48 PM on August 30, 2010


Can't top the free or $100 versions but I did get my 20 volume version new from Amazon for $350. They have the weirdest price fluctuation thing going on there when you add things to your cart and don't buy them. Sometimes it would be $1,000 other times $750 and then that one magical day when it hit $350 I jumped on it.

I also highly recommend the OED Historical Thesaurus. It's a bit cumbersome to use (you basically have to use both volumes for each word you look up) but well worth the effort.
posted by bfootdav at 7:21 PM on August 30, 2010


I've had the OED in my Amazon wish list for years. I've noticed the same thing as bfootdav, it mysteriously goes up and down in price all of the time. I've never seen it under $600, though.

When I worked at Brown University bookstore in the 1980s, I loved looking through it. Sadly, it was shelved on a very public stairwell in full view of all of the supervisors, so I couldn't just hide out in an aisle and read it...but I swore that someday I would own it.

I just recently moved my Random House Unabridged II into the garage. I've not cracked it open in eons. I think I'm going to sell it. I don't know why anyone would buy it, and I don't know who to give it to. Maybe buying OED would be stupid.

I would pay money for the ability to view it online, but I don't have $300 per year to spare on it.
posted by popechunk at 7:43 PM on August 30, 2010


Popechunk, I wonder if the price fluctuations also have to do with purchase history? In any case I just checked my account and it was January of 2008 when I bought it. Holy crap it was actually on my birthday! I don't think they have my birthday anywhere so I'm sure it was just a coincidence but still a nice one for a birthday present to myself.

As for buying the OED, it would not be stupid. I get plenty of use out of mine both in writing and just the joy of browsing it. And of course it looks awesome set up in my living room next to my writing desk.
posted by bfootdav at 7:52 PM on August 30, 2010


I'm torn because a 20 volume dictionary is a lot of stuff to own, that I don't really need to own.
posted by popechunk at 8:39 PM on August 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the thread where we all fondle our Compact Editions, yeah?

1933 edition here. *fondles*
posted by jokeefe at 9:30 PM on August 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Unfortunately their online subscription is very expensive at nearly $300/year. I could almost imagine paying the full cost of the print edition for a lifetime online subscription to the OED. But otherwise, it just doesn't make sense for even your average OED lover.

This is why libraries are awesome. My library has link to the OED on their website and if you log into the library website, you can use the OED anywhere for free.
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:37 PM on August 30, 2010


I've been using the online version through my library website quite a bit recently, and I have been impressed with how nice it is. It doesn't beat the print version for me, but it's much more convenient than either my compact edition, or going to the library to consult the full size.

Per jamjam's comment, one thing that would make the online version much better would be hyperlinks to the usage examples in the texts from which they were drawn. Since most of that stuff is in the public domain*, and from a limited number of sources, it would not be hard to host and serve that content.

*I was most recently looking up words from The Recognitions, which I just finished. It was fun to find that for several of the words I looked up, Gaddis's use was among the updated usage examples.
posted by OmieWise at 5:32 AM on August 31, 2010


I have the 1933 condensed 2-volume! Still rather a lot of words.
posted by Mister_A at 6:05 AM on August 31, 2010


> I also highly recommend the OED Historical Thesaurus. It's a bit cumbersome to use (you basically have to use both volumes for each word you look up) but well worth the effort.

Same here. It's an amazing work you can easily get lost in.
posted by languagehat at 6:54 AM on August 31, 2010


You people do realize I'm on a fixed income, right?

I'm going to have to pool my drool in the reference section of the public library, aren't I?

Wait, I seem to recall something about reference sections being phased out...? I might be in a few dumpsters myself, if that's the case.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:02 AM on August 31, 2010


No-sword: "The thing about electronic dictionaries is that their designers rarely think to include serendipity. How often do you just page through a regular dictionary to get to one word, read the definition, and then close the dictionary?"

This. I love the electronic version of the OED for a quick look up or to find out all the words that first appeared in 1431, but I have the paper so I can look around a word, sidle up to it, gently warming up by reading a few other definitions that catch my eye.

Besides, the bookshelf it lives in makes an awesome altar.
posted by QIbHom at 9:30 AM on August 31, 2010


The thing about electronic dictionaries is that their designers rarely think to include serendipity. How often do you just page through a regular dictionary to get to one word, read the definition, and then close the dictionary?

Totally.

You know, as much as there is wrong with library catalog lookups (the problems of which are mostly to do with nitpicky input), one of the great things is that the results often (depending on your library's search design, obviously) come up as a point somewhere in the middle of an ordered list, like a sort of virtual bookshelf where you can see what's around it on either side, and you can scroll virtually infinitely in either direction.

That kind of display would work terrifically well for a dictionary, where you'd presumably just be typing in the word you want to look up, and there would be a single direct hit to display, but maybe a few nearby entries that could also be either quite relevant or just sort of word-a-day neat-o.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:59 AM on August 31, 2010


Or while we're brainstorming serendipity into a dictionary interface, you could build a search engine to display a variety of related words, combining a dictionary and thesaurus in one.

My primary concern with electronic books at this time is still legal. Urgh! A Music War and the 1980 Lathe of Heaven were in digital limbo for over a decade due to issues regarding who actually owns the rights to digital transfer of a video work. Bound copies and the first sale doctrine provide an important hedge against an organization deciding both that there's no profit in converting works to a new format, and that no one else has the legal right to either.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:57 AM on August 31, 2010


> I love the electronic version of the OED for a quick look up or to find out all the words that first appeared in 1431, but I have the paper so I can look around a word, sidle up to it, gently warming up by reading a few other definitions that catch my eye.

> That kind of display would work terrifically well for a dictionary, where you'd presumably just be typing in the word you want to look up, and there would be a single direct hit to display, but maybe a few nearby entries

Uh, you guys do realize that the online OED has nearby words in the left margin, right? I often waste time clicking on those words before getting to the one I was looking up.
posted by languagehat at 11:38 AM on August 31, 2010


Sys Rq said:
one of the great things is that the results often (depending on your library's search design, obviously) come up as a point somewhere in the middle of an ordered list, like a sort of virtual bookshelf where you can see what's around it on either side, and you can scroll virtually infinitely in either direction.

This is what I usually do in libraries, except I do it by physically going to the library. Often I go to the library, don't end up getting the book I came for (because it turns out to be not what I thought it was), but end up getting other books that are shelved nearby and are related.
posted by madcaptenor at 12:23 PM on August 31, 2010


languagehat: "Uh, you guys do realize that the online OED has nearby words in the left margin, right?"

Sure, but often, it is the combination of words in a definition that grabs me, not just the main headings.

Perhaps it is because I grew up in a paper-text world, but there is a sensuous thrill to a paper dictionary. I've had my OED for over 15 years now, but I still cackle a bit internally whenever I look at it because I HAVE ALL THE WORDS!!!!
posted by QIbHom at 12:44 PM on August 31, 2010


> there is a sensuous thrill to a paper dictionary.

Oh yeah, you'll get no argument from me there. I smell 'em and everything. Mmm, paper!
posted by languagehat at 2:17 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


My library has link to the OED on their website and if you log into the library website, you can use the OED anywhere for free.

This. It's free from my public library, and that's just about my favorite thing ever. Check to seeif it's available from yours, if you haven't already. If it doesn't, you might consider looking around for a public library system or university library that does provide access, as the cost of a yearly out-of-area membership may be significantly less than the cost of direct personal OED access—my county's system charges $135/year apparently, which is nothing to sneeze at but is a lot less than $300.
posted by cortex at 4:27 PM on August 31, 2010


Check to see if it's available from yours, if you haven't already.

I just checked, and my library DOES offer it free. Woohoo! Public Libraries!
posted by popechunk at 5:43 PM on August 31, 2010


My dear wife got me the 20-volume OED some years ago. (For a couple of weeks, I'd been wondering what those boxes in the garage were.) Anyone who comes to our door and introduces himself or herself as a friend of {mathowie, jessamyn, cortex, pb} may touch and read them.
posted by lukemeister at 8:57 PM on August 31, 2010


The CD is not needed to use the dictionary. All the data is dumped to a hard drive during install. It probably wouldn't be too hard to drop it all into a Dropbox folder and give yourself access to it anywhere you have an internet connection.

They stopped requiring the CD to use their application, but it's still in some proprietary format with a proprietary app to use it and I'd be surprised if you could do anything useful by putting the data in a Dropbox folder. You could remote desktop into a PC where it's installed, though, but that's probably a violation of the terms of service.

But having access to the online OED through work did a lot to sap my interest in figuring out whether I could make the CD-ROM version useful on a Linux box.
posted by Zed at 12:10 AM on September 1, 2010


You know, I haven't had many occasions to quote my own nine year old MetaFilter posts. Here goes:
Note: The following refers to the 20 volume, hard bound edition of the OED:

Description Each Total
-------------------------------------------------------------------
OXFORD ENG DICT 2/E-20V $340.29 $340.29
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Item(s) Subtotal: $ 340.29
Shipping & Handling: $ 3.95
Sales Tax (AL residents only): $ 0.00
-----------
TOTAL DUE: $ 344.24

Thank you Booksamillion for price matching the 20 volume version against the photo-reduced version. I eventually bought two, one as a wedding present for a friend.

When they wised up, their price on it initially jumped to $3,000.00. I don't know what they started charging for shipping. :-)
posted by NortonDC at 4:28 AM on October 19, 2001
Also, I'm CERTAIN that this same maybe-no-paper pronouncement was made years ago, perhaps even contemporaneously with my purchase.
posted by NortonDC at 8:44 PM on September 5, 2010


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