One of the few perks (in fact, possibly the only perk) of doing The English Blog is that I (very) occasionally get sent a book to review. So when I was offered an advance copy of the brand new Collins English Dictionary, 12th edition, I didn't have to think twice.
The dictionary arrived a couple of days ago, and I've spent some time perusing its 2,305 pages. In fact, I already had a copy of the Collins English Dictionary Millennium Edition, published in 1998. Back in the last millennium, selfies, staycations and photobombing (all of which feature in the new edition) were yet to be invented (as words, at least). Moreover, in the past decade, the internet has completely transformed the world of dictionaries and encyclopedias. The Encyclopedia Britannica printed its last edition in 2010, and in 2012 Macmillan announced that its dictionaries would no longer appear as physical books. Even the Oxford English Dictionary 'will not be printed again'. Everyone can now get access to excellent free dictionaries online or as apps. So the $64,000 question is why would you want to spend £45 on a weighty (2.6kg) tome, when you can get the same content for free on your computer, tablet or smartphone.
The answer is that the user experience is totally different. The online dictionary is basically just a tool, whereas a physical dictionary offers so much more. For anyone interested in the English language, nothing beats the pleasure of browsing a good print dictionary and discovering new words and meanings. As Mark Forsyth says in his introduction to the new Collins Dictionary, "This is the great trick, the great seduction of the dictionary. It lures you in with the promise of a quick, simple answer. But then, like a wily shopkeeper, it keeps offering you more and more." And there's plenty to discover, with over 50,000 newly added words and a total of 722,000 words, meanings and phrases.
Of course, such a comprehensive dictionary is not for everybody. Learners of English would be better off investing in a good learner's dictionary. But for teachers of English and language lovers, not to mention word gamers and puzzle lovers, the elegant new Collins English Dictionary will provide years of linguistic pleasure. And the good news is that you can save £15 on the RRP with this special launch offer.