The slide has started according to the CBC article, “Canadian Oxford Dictionary staff all laid off.” What surprised me was that the dictionary’s staff is made up of only four people, and two of them are part time! Surely sales haven’t slid so far that two full-time and two part-time salaries would put them in a deficit?
The article does say that part of the reason is that so many people now use online dictionaries. This is certainly true and I do it myself. My big beef with this trend is that there are no Canadian dictionaries available online.
The only bright side to the news is that The Canadian Oxford Dictionary will not cease to exist. According to the article, freelance writers in collaboration with the lexicography department in Oxford will continue to publish the dictionary.
Addendum: My mistake. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary is indeed available online. The problem is it’s merely one of the nearly 200 books available as part of their Oxford Reference Online: Premium Collection. A subscription costs a Canadian individual $20 a month or $160 annually. That’s a little steep, considering the discounted annual rate could almost buy you three copies of the paper-bound dictionary.