I LOVE print dictionaries. Of course, I use online dictionaries all the time, and I have a couple dictionary apps on my phone (American Heritage and Merriam-Webster). But the experience of browsing through a print dictionary, turning the pages and discovering a new word in the middle of all that small type, is hard to replicate on a screen. But I was wondering this morning, are print dictionaries a thing of the past? After all, dictionaries are BIG books, they must cost a bundle to print. Meanwhile, the retail price of the average dictionary is quite low, considering the size of the book. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary only costs about twenty bucks, for a fairly large book of over 1600 pages!
And so I stumbled on an article from the National Endowment for the Humanities website (neh.gov) that I found very enjoyable. It's entitled "If Printed Dictionaries Are History, What Will Children Sit on to Reach the Table?" written by Michael Adams. He doesn't really answer my question, but he does reflect on the history of print dictionaries, and he offers some insight on the transition from print to online form, and what that means for consumers. Here's a brief excerpt:
When Aunt Sophie wanted to reward a niece or nephew for graduating from high school with college in view, she would present the up-and-coming student with a dictionary, but not just any dictionary. It might be linen-covered; it might be printed on India paper; it might have speckled edges; it might be thumb-indexed; it might be all four. It all depended on how Aunt Sophie wanted to be seen by the rest of her family, how much she wanted to spend, and how much she liked her young relative.
(adj.) wild and frenzied; from Greek κορυβαντες (Korybantes)