The Literary Dictionary Company


Report on The Literary Encyclopedia, 2009


Commercial in Confidence

Please do not release information to those who might pass it on to commercial competitors.




Activity in 2009, and reflections on the direction to be taken in 2010. 1

Income in 2009 (compared with 2008) 2

Expenditure in 2009. 3

Consolidated Debt and Cash-on-Hand. 3

Anticipated Earnings for 2010. 4

Payments to Contributors. 4

Undergraduate Essay Prize. 5

New Software and Data Features about to be released. 5

Management, governance and company administration. 6



Activity in 2009, and reflections on the direction to be taken in 2010


The Literary Encyclopedia grew positively in 2009 and continued to improve the service it offers its subscribers:  216 new contributors joined us; 714 articles were published; 534 new articles were commissioned, bringing total outstanding commissions to 980.  These figures were below those of 2008, which was an exceptional year, in part because we were focused on achieving radical improvements to metadata and the editorial interface.  This work is nearly completed and we hope to be able to increase our publication-rate in the next twelve months.


Recommended Reading has been a focus of our development in 2009. We have added nearly 8,000 recommendations since October 2009 and hope to reach 20,000 recommendations by 30th September 2010.


Financially, the publication added eleven new subscribers, and lost four (see below).  We draw comfort from the small number of cancellations during the worst economic recession in eighty years.  A number of institutions which had positive trial results indicated their wish to subscribe when the financial situation improves. 


We also continue to improve the way the platform delivers to the highest standards. During 2009 we transferred our hosting to Amazon Cloud which ensures delivery and backup which are about as robust as can be imagined.  In the last few days we have unveiled a new page design which has been in planning through the autumn of 2009. This looks very much smarter and offers clarifies the relationship of each article to the contextualising features which are now tidily listed in a new left-hand column.  We will be continuing with small tweaks and improvements to this design in the next few weeks.  Again through 2009 we also developed a new metadata and indexing scheme for the entire publication which ensures pinpoint identification for any object in historical, geographical and conceptual terms. This is now being mapped across the site and the benefits of this scheme will become more apparent to users in the coming months, notably in the provision of browse and advanced search, and in more sophisticated timelines.


The greatest benefit of the new metadata scheme, however, will be “behind the scences” in the delivery to administrators, editors and contributors of “Editorial Desks” which will allow us to designate any very small area (for example, one author and her works) or any larger area (for example, novels written by women in the American South between 1918 and 1939) to a single editor or an editorial team, who will then be able to monitor and develop coverage of all the work (articles, recommended reading, timelines, …) which falls under their purview.  Editorial Desks will give editors the satisfaction of complete transparency, immediacy and relative autonomy in the commissioning and editorial process.  The Literary Encyclopedia editorial staff will concern themselves with the final proof-reading, approving articles for publication, and keeping an eye on the entire development of the publication. Editorial Desks will therefore enable The Literary Encyclopedia to achieve the highly informed and learned scrutiny in every area of the publication and establish a new benchmark for comprehensive literary reference.


Looking forward, cuts are announced for UK higher education in 2010-2012 and may lead to reduced revenues.  Globally, however, the outlook is variegated, and we may be bolstered by ever higher appetite for internet publications and appreciation of the quality we offer.


Income in 2009 (compared with 2008)





Institutional Subscriptions



Individual Subscriptions – all



Advertising Sales



Interest on deposits



Total Income




Revenues in 2009 were in line with predictions and the increase in subscription income at a time of recession was gratifying. The publication gained 11 university subscribers and one school in 2009 (compared to 22 added in 2008):  University College London, Aarhus, Jonkoping, American University of Paris, Essex, Tübingen, Freiburg, Paderborn, Wesleyan, Hong Kong, St. Michael's College School Toronto. 


The publication lost four subscribers in the autumn of 2009, reflecting tightening budgets in the UK: Cardiff University; Portsmouth University; Colchester Sixth Form College; Homestead High School.  The large loss here is Cardiff; the others are small.


The net result is that we had 74 paying institutional subscribers at the end of 2009 and made 10 complimentary subscriptions in countries with per capita income below the global average.  Fees generally were increased by 15% on the previous year, giving an increase of over £13,000 from institutions.


The advertising revenue from AskJeeves disappeared because their requirements changed and came into conflict with our non-commercial approach.


Individual subscriptions in 2009 increased by about £4,000 because we cut the individual price from $29.95 to $18.95 and were able to increase take-up.  However, individual subscriptions appeared to be in decline towards the end of the year and into 2010, probably as a consequence of tighter personal budgets. 


Expenditure in 2009








Bank charges



Computer equipment



Editorial staff: casual



Editorial staff: established






Interest on loans



Office materials



Other expenses






Server charges



Software development













Note 1: no royalty or wage payments have been made to Directors, Editors or Contributors, all of whom continue to contribute their expertise to the publication in return for proportionate ownership in the whole.  This means in effect that the expenditures listed above are almost entirely devoted to increasing the content and software features of the publication; there are very small delivery costs and administrative overheads remain tiny in proportion to the value we are constantly adding to the whole.

Note 2: these accounts are good indications of year-on-year performance. The Company account year is from June 1st to May 31st and its accounts are audited by our accountants, Devine and Company of Slough, and presented to Companies House as the final and correct expression of profit-and-loss for legal purposes.


Consolidated Debt and Cash-on-Hand


The Company’s consolidated debt to Robert Clark and Marianne Majerus stands at £78,367.62.   At the date of writing, 22 March 2010, The Literary Dictionary Company has cash reserves of just over £40,000, underpinning its continued development.


Anticipated Earnings for 2010


Anticipations and Strategies

We anticipate a reduction in revenue of £10,000 in 2009-2010 because of the economic recession.  However, we are continuing to build content and enhance the scholarly and pedagogic value we offer (see below) and intend to be ready to seek more subscriptions when growth returns.  We have therefore been investing in improving the current look of the publication, and improving the way in which it is used by readers through enhanced on-screen prompts and easier navigation.  In addition to trying to increase our usual rate of publication of major articles, we are also assiduously extending our lists of recommended reading, an aspect of the publication which students and librarians very much appreciate and which only a very large network of scholars can effectively provide.  We have a target of adding some 12,000 recommendations to the current 8,000 by the end of September. We ask you to assist us by sending us your lists.


We continue to explore potential relations with major publishers and online suppliers, and in these conversations we are often complimented for what we have achieved in terms of scholarship, publishing expertise and electronic delivery.  If we can see an opportunity for a collaborative and productive partnership with a major publisher, we will recommend it to you.



Wage costs were reduced in 2009 by maternity leave, and will rise in 2010 as we complete work on Editorial Desks and other new areas of development. We will also recruit another member of staff who will assist the expanded range of specialist editors we will be seeking, and with the indexing of the 8,000 or so historical stubs which we are adding to the Topics&Events table. We anticipate using some of our cash reserves to fund this investment.

Payments to Contributors

We had hoped last year to be able to begin making royalty payments to contributors in January 2011. However this aspiration can only take effect when we move into profit on current account and since our income is likely to reduce in 2010, whilst our investment is increasing, royalty payments will have to be deferred.  Whilst such deferrals are not pleasing, it may be worth noting that they are normal for start-up companies which logically need to reinvest earnings in growth.  We remain confident that the returns to our contributor-investors will be considerable over the long term provided we have your support for our collective effort and we are for this reason able to persuade institutions that subscribing to The Literary Encyclopedia is good for students, good for scholars and good for the profession at large.  Our financial projections for revenue growth aim at achieving annual payments of £12.6 ($18.9) per share (£126 or $189 per major article per annum) by 2020 and are set out on this web page: To access this confidential page please enter username “invitee” and the password “erasmus1467”. 


Undergraduate Essay Prize


In 2009 we launched the Emory Elliott Essay Prize and attracted 80 first-quality submissions.  The prize winners were announced and their work published in August.  ( We are continuing the prize for 2010.


New Software and Data Features about to be released


Editorial Desks


This feature was intended for release by December 2009 but has been delayed by illness in the family of our responsible engineer. It is now almost certain to go live by the end of May 2010.


Reindexing the whole publication


The creation and implementation of a radically reconstructed metadata scheme was mainly completed by the end of 2009 and is now being used on the web-server.  Fine tuning is still going on.  The intellectual work involved proved extremely rewarding: we have created a unified metadata scheme for all articles so far written or conceivable in the future and applied this across the entire platform. Indeed, we have a scheme which will handle any aspect of human experience with radical ease and sharpness.  In practice, this will enable fine and complex advanced searches, and increasingly sophisticated and customisable displays of many kinds.


Editions and Translations


From the autumn 2010 The Literary Encyclopedia will be separating a “work” from any particular edition of the work. This will enable us to distinguish, by way of example, first performances, first manuscript circulation, first printed editions, first translation, first printings in different countries.  We will be seeking your help when we have the software in place we will be seeking your help with some of the listings, but I am sure you will appreciate that this will constitute a step-change in the sophistication and accuracy with which we can display historical experience.


Historical Stubs


Before the end of August 2010 we will have completed indexing some 10,000 historical stubs which will give us a clearer sense of the historical context of literary production.  Most of these stubs will have dd-mm-yyyy resolution, providing greater cogency to our author chronologies and historical tables.


Another feature for release in the autumn.


We have another feature for release in the autumn which will constitute a major departure and a radical aid to scholarly understanding. For commercial reasons we are keeping this under wraps until the summer.


Management, governance and company administration


We will commission software to enable contributors to vote for the election of a Management Committee in January 2011.  Those who wish to stand for election will be invited to post personal statements in December 2010 and the election will be conducted electronically on the basis of one vote per share.  The Committee will be asked to advise the Managing Editor on all aspects of the development of the publication, and to assist in reporting activity to the Company’s shareholders.






Dr Robert Clark

The Editor, The Literary Encyclopedia

Managing Director, The Literary Dictionary Company Limited.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010