Published on: September 7, 2010The end of the world as we know it? Or just another indication of where the world is going, and resistance is futile?
The Daily Beast noted the other day that Oxford University Press has announced that the next edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary is likely to come out not in book form, but online only. According to the company, the market for print dictionaries is declining by more than 10 percent a year ... and the company has taken notice of the fact that it gets two million hits a month from people who pay $295 for an annual subscription.
Which means that the company is on the verge of changing its definition of success.
Some will say that this is sacrilege, and that the culture loses something as shifts such as these take place. But others will say, no, that is an example of a company recognizing the inevitability of change and doing what is necessary to remain relevant to the customer, even if it seems to violate the very premise of the product. Because the simple truth is that a dictionary’s mission is to educate people about words, to both broaden and deepen their ability to use the language. Paper and ink are just the means of the moment.
That’s a good lesson for every business. You have to be able to separate the mission from the means. The means can and will change. The mission...well, the mission is what you really have to pay attention to. All the other stuff is just wrapping paper.
And that’s my Tuesday Eye Opener.
- Kevin Coupe
- KC's View: