The new technology will then take over general information sources: dictionaries, multilingual dictionaries, dictionaries of quotations, encyclopedias, atlases, almanacs, thesauri, concordances, phrase books, tourist guides, repair manuals, phone books, cookbooks, collections of statistics, stock prices, speeches, operas, paintings, sculptures, magazines, census information, and library and museum catalogs.
Already the catalog of the Library of Congress, The Readers' Guide to Periodical Literature, The Oxford English Dictionary, and Books in Print (at $1,000 a year; with book reviews--something unthinkable with paper--it is $1,400 a year), are all available on disc. There are now 1,400 titles available on compact disc.
The Voyager Company, ABC News Interactive, and Warner New Media, Incorporated, are all producing titles solely for the new media. For example, in August 1991 the top 10 bestsellers (with some prices) were: Grolier's Electronic Encyclopedia ($400), The Magazine Rack, The Multimedia World Fact Book, The Microsoft Bookshelf ($300), U.S. History on CD-ROM, National Geographic's Mammals, The PC-SIG Library ($500), The Reference Library, McGraw-Hill's Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, and Compton's Multimedia Encyclopedia ($900).
Grolier's Encyclopedia contains 10 million words and 1,500 pictures; what used to take 21 large books now takes just 1/5th of one small disc. Compton's Encyclopedia contains 8,784,000 words, 5,200 articles, 15,800 photos, maps, and diagrams, 60 minutes of recorded voices and sounds, 45 animated sequences, Webster's Intermediate Dictionary (which itself has 65,000 entries), and a word processing program.
Then the new technology will take over textbooks and all other technical and professional books. Electronically distributing textbooks could eliminate printing, packaging, distribution, transportation, postal delay, possible returns, warehousing costs, and the used textbook industry. And it reduces both the risk and span of time of having capital tied up during the distribution process.