From the Collins-Robert dictionary to the Petit Larousse, Lexicon Planet's initiator Pierre-Henri Cousin has been dealing in words.
And words are becoming big business. One of the major developments of the incoming millennium will be automated language processing, in particular assisted translation - with potential sales that can be assessed in $billions.
Today traditional language reference publishers are facing the unpleasant fact that they have perhaps lost the initiative in their own sector - helping customers with the relevant aspect of mastering language, be it learning, translation or lookup tasks.
Pierre-Henri Cousin started his professional life as an editor on Collins' celebrated French-English dictionary, published in 1978, and went on to lead Collins' bilingual department as its Publisher before being headhunted by Larousse in Paris, where he rebuilt the bilingual list and subsequently ran its language reference division.
Increasingly doubtful about the potential of traditional publishing to put in motion the necessary synergies - in the true sense of the word - in order to adjust to a landscape which is being radically altered by the emergence of the Internet and multimedia, he decided to set up a platform dedicated to the pursuit of language reference excellence.
While few traditional knowledge and language publishers are likely to emerge unscathed from the current transformations, it must be said that software players do not hold all the cards - brands remain paramount, such as Webster, Larousse, Oxford or Langenscheidt; and editorial culture is not the same as software culture.
A firm belief in the necessity of integration between the various language and knowledge workshops led to the realization that such evolution probably needs to be engineered from a standpoint which is no longer within traditional publishing, but outside and bringing together the old and the new worlds, preserving the valuable skill of lexicography that underlies older processes as well as fully digital operations.
This is where Lexicon Planet comes into play, with the clear objective of making a significant contribution to new generations of language reference works - by linking key lexicographers, language software specialists and editors who can exchange experience and ideas as well as help build projects large or small, carried out at arm's length or else as enterprise in residence.
The old distinction or divide between content providers and multimedia organizers needs to give way to a new form of publishing, offering customers quality language help in the most appropriate medium. Lexicon Planet aims to play a meaningful role in this evolutionary process.