Canadian Oxford Dictionary staff all laid off

The entire staff of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary has been laid off because of declining sales.

The entire staff of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary has been laid off because of declining sales.

The Canadian branch of the Oxford University Press said it told two full-time and two part-time employees this week they would be let go due to "changing market conditions."

Katherine Barber, the full-time editor of the dictionary, is among those who have been let go. Dubbed "Canada's Word Lady," Barber has been at the helm of Oxford's Canadian dictionary department since its creation in 1991.

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David Stover, president of the Canadian company, said sales of all print dictionaries have declined in recent years.

"We've been the market leader and our sales have held up very well," he said, declining to give specific figures.

"What we found, though, was that in the last six months with the downturn in the retail sector and the migration of people online reaching a tipping point, that we had to take a much closer look at it."

An abundance of free internet dictionaries means fewer people are using print versions, he said.

Stover said the company is discussing an "ongoing role" with Barber.

The company will continue to publish the Canadian Oxford Dictionary with the assistance of Canadian freelancers and the lexicography department in Oxford, England, he said.