Writer applauds print dictionary’s demise

This veteran writer praises Macmillan’s decision to stop killing trees in favor of having only a digital version.

By any standard, I’m surely old enough to fall into the fiendishly-addicted-to-print demographic. But when I heard that Macmillan would no longer publish dictionaries in print form, I suppressed a yeehaw. It’s an enormous weight off my bookshelves.

And it’s about bloody time. Most of us have been writing on computers for the last 25 years. About the only person I know who doesn’t feel comfortable with things digital is my 88-year-old mother-in-law.

People who spend their lives hunched over keyboards—which is to say, most of us in North America—know that looking up a word online is a lickety-split task. In fact, I just Googled lickety-split to double-check the spelling. Why would I reach for my dictionary to do that?

I feel some sympathy for people who mourn the loss of books but I don’t share their sorrow. I love my Kindle and, in fact, prefer reading fiction on it as opposed to “real” books. I do miss bookstores—I always enjoyed browsing the shelves—but if you forced me to choose between the pleasures of bookstores or the ease of ordering a book with a single click, it would take me no longer than a nanosecond to choose the latter.

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