ABC News reported yesterday that the Oxford English Dictionary might be the next casualty of the Internet Age. Nigel Portwood, the chief executive of the Oxford University press, told the U.K.'s The Sunday Times that "he didn't think the newest edition will be printed when it comes out in 2020". He also states that the "print dictionary market is just disappearing. It is falling away by tens of percent a year".
To give an idea as to why this might happen - the on-line version ($295/year) is receiving 2,000,000 hits a month, while the printed version has sold only about 30,000 sets since it was last published in 1989. I have to say that I do not use a paper dictionary at all, and haven't done so for several years. I prefer to use the free version of Dictionary.com on my computer, and WordWeb on my iPhone if I need to look up a word. Spell checkers have also removed the need to look up the dictionary to spell a word that I don't know. I also have Spanish and French dictionaries on my iPhone for travel.
It is inevitable that there will be less paper books used in classes - check out the following experiment in the University of Notre Dame who have launched an eReader study and have created the first paperless course using iPads:
The University of Michigan recently announced that it had "launched a new ebook rental program for more than 250 of its scholarly titles, allowing students or faculty to rent digital copies of the books at a discount for a month or six months". There should be more of this in Universities/Colleges, and even in secondary and primary schools. Some would say "What about workbooks?" but iPads can be used write notes and annotate pages in a workbook without the need for paper.
Next - what's the future for libraries?