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23 November 2012

The old order passeth...

I have long had a love affair with encyclopaedias. When I was a child, we had several sets, pitched at different reading levels. We also subscribed to encyclopaedias delivered in weekly or monthly installments: Finding Out and The Book of Knowledge. I spent many happy hours browsing from one article to another, following a trail through ideas and concepts.

We bought the Encyclopaedia Britannica for our own children, all 16 volumes of it, plus yearly supplements. In a big clean out several years ago, we sent the whole set to a book fair. I had a moment of nostalgia, but had to acknowledge I'd not cracked a cover of any of the books for years. The electronic encyclopaedias we own are so much easier to use. And that doesn't even begin to take account of the wealth of knowledge available on the Internet.

Johnson's latest post talks about the end - and new beginning - of another great reference work. What do you think? Are printed dictionaries a thing of the past?

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