Computers have changed our lives in countless big and small ways in the past fifteen years. The print media industry has taken some blows, as have the music business and retail. In the past I have written about the Internet as being a kind of "death star" media that comes along and destroys other medias.
This is overly dramatic of course, and not entirely accurate. The Internet doesn't really destroy other medias. It replaces them with something that's generally more convenient. Why have a shelf full of records and CDs for instance when you can download whatever you want and put it on your iPod. Why go to the bookstore when you can download the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel on your Kindle and start reading it immediately?
Obviously the Internet making things tough for the print world is nothing new. Magazines and newspapers have been closing up the shutters for the better part of ten years now. And the latest casualty of the online information revolution looks like it will be the Oxford English Dictionary.
Nigel Portwood, the publisher of the dictionary revealed the newest edition would likely be released only for the web. Speaking to the Sunday Times, Portwood was quoted as saying, "The print dictionary market is just disappearing. It's falling away by tens of percent a year."
Access to the digital edition of the publication costs $295.00 a year. That's not cheap, but think of the room you will now have on your shelf for all your books, CDs and . . . oh wait. Well, what exactly are we going to put on our shelves now that we're downloading all our books, music, movies and dictionaries?
If things keep heading the way they're going, the next industry to fall under threat from the Internet may not be related to the media or electronics at all. It may turn out to be the bookshelf industry.