From the press release:
The third edition of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, the definitive reference work in the field, will be released online later this year by the newly-formed ESF, Ltd, in association with Victor Gollancz, the SF & Fantasy imprint of the Orion Publishing Group, whose support will enable the text to be available free to all users. This initial “beta” version, containing about three-quarters of the total projected content, will be unveiled in conjunction with Gollancz’s celebrations of its 50th anniversary as a science fiction publisher.
The first edition of the Encylopedia, whose founder and general editor was Peter Nicholls, appeared in 1979, and contained over 700,000 words. A second edition, edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls, appeared in 1993 and contained over 1.3 million words. Both editions won the Hugo Award from the World Science Fiction Convention, in addition to numerous other honours.
The beta version of the third edition will contain some 3 million words, including about 12,000 entries and well over 100,000 internal links. The entries cover every area of science fiction, including authors, illustrators, movies, music, games, and fanzines. The text will be completed, through monthly updates, by the end of 2012.
The decision to go digital and free is generating considerable buzz. Given how much previous editions have sold for, it’s clear that the SFE has plenty of revenue potential. The question is how, or whether, that potential will be realized when the content is available and searchable online for free (in the style of other reference websites like Merriam-Webster’s dictionary site). Managing editor Graham Sleight dropped me a note to say that he’s seeking views on whether people would want to buy the SFE in print, e-book, or app format, and he invites Genreville readers to respond either in comments here or with tweets to @sfencyclopedia. I hope you’ll comment here; I’m very interested to know what you think.