Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Readers may recall the troubles I’ve recently had with an enhanced ebook: The Guide to Birds of Britain and Europe.

Ever the early adopter, I rushed out and plonked my money down when the immortal Oxford English Dictionary was first published electronically in 1993. We didn’t use the word ebook back then.

It was merely called “The Oxford English Dictionary on Compact Disc”, and it came in a chunky A4 sized white plastic box. This was considerably smaller and lighter than the 16 volumes of the printed work, and of course somewhat cheaper, as well.

Inside the plastic box came a printed instruction manual, a floppy disk which contained the program and the necessary fonts, and a CD-ROM which held the data.

I can’t use it any more because it only runs on Mac OS 7, 8 and 9, and I no longer have a computer that uses those operating systems. Or a floppy disk drive.

But all is not lost. In June last year I had a cheery letter from Oxford University Press offering me, as a registered user of Version 1.0d, the Oxford English Dictionary 2nd ed — new Mac-compatible CD-ROM v4.0 on a Special Offer!

For a mere £149.25 more I would be able to read my version of the OED on a more up-to-date computer.

Of course for the same amount of money I could buy all 16 volumes second-hand from Abe Books.

And I wouldn’t have to chuck it away when Apple finally release Mac OS XI.

But now OUP have announced that the next edition of the OED may well be available only as an ebook — no print edition at all. So we’re moving to a situation where we will have to pay out regularly for upgrades to carry on using a necessary reference work.

It’s what the software and publishing giants have dreamed of. Books that expire after a certain time. After all, who is still using Photoshop I nowadays?


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5 Responses to “Another Wonderful eBook?”

  1. Bombshell says:

    You did know that your local library will give you a password so you can access the OED online? For free?

    At least they do in Haringey.

  2. Gwyn Headley says:

    Yes I did, and that’s going to be my solution from now on. Some UK libraries — Gwynedd for example — also allow you access to so you can look up those census forms your ancestors paid for.

    But not Haringey, alas.

  3. Today I wanted to buy a book from Amazon on stock photography (looking for some focussed direction, inspiration really!) and having just read this blog entry made me remember that I should be clicking through the fotoLibra Amazon link to help support this site! I closed my Amazon browser window, cleared out all my cookies and came back here to click the Amazon link through the books tab.

    I am sure we all buy from Amazon, so remember to visit them through here and support the people who are out there pushing to sell our images to help us.

    Happy weekend to all,

  4. Gwyn Headley says:

    Martyn that’s really good of you. James who runs the fotoLibra Bookshop (or fotoLibra Bookstore for our American friends) for us will appreciate your comments, I’m sure.

  5. Mike Mumford says:

    Yes, it is funny how “time” changes everything, or does it?
    e-books dictionaries like the Oxford University will die a natural death. Any common spelling mistake is now automatically corrected, or you are informed with green (grammar) or red under-lines (misspelt). I find Google most helpful, they will correct your misspelt keyword, find more connecting words than any modern dictionary. Have your English text instantly changed into most languages.
    These physical links between a real book lasting into old age and electronic book, here today, gone tomorrow. I think real values like antiques are their proven quality. Real values are lasting qualities like a good marriage, conception and birth. In my mind the old fashioned morals work for me, what society does seems to have other agenda’s on dumbing down of standards in a mad free for all and ever unequal mixed-up exploited world. Long live the quality book now increasingly linked iPad. Not forgetting quality images, like classic books have more fuel to sustain them.