First impressions of a reference book are likely to come from its physical features, these including weight, dimensions, appearance. Here the new Concise deserves full marks. Nice size, nice thickness, nice weight in the hands. Paper is very nice too, with the perfume of quality. This is a book that deserves to be well taken care of.
A few reservations. I was disappointed by the quality of the English, which in general is fine but in an Oxford dictionary should arguably be perfect. From the second paragraph of the Preface: "It is interesting today to look back at that first edition of the Concise and compare it with the work today, now in its twelfth edition." There's a confusion here between a book and its editions. To convey clearly the message that is presumably intended would be a simple matter: "It is interesting to look back at that first edition of the Concise and compare it with this twelfth edition."
H.W. Fowler was vehemently against what he referred to as "fused participles". These things are now the rage in British journalism and on the BBC, but for a lover of good English they remain as objectionable as ever for two simple reasons. On the one hand they may result in ambiguity, while on the other they are aesthetically offensive owing to an absence of grammatical structure. There shouldn't be any of them in an Oxford publication, but an example shows up - like an earwig in an operating theatre, Fowler might say - in the last full paragraph on page xi ("...dependent for their evidence on someone having noticed...").
Where the definitions are concerned, I feel intuitively that they are in general very well done. I just object to a few pernickety details. For one thing I feel the constant use of the indefinite article is superfluous, e.g. in the case of "historian: n. an expert in or student of history". It does serve to indicate countability, but indication could be formal and more elegant. The expression "an expert in" rightly corresponds to "a historian".
Personally I would be happier with a format in which each of the words defined were itself in alphabetical order. Take for example the verb "immiserate". The closest thing in alphabetical order is the noun "immiseration", which indeed is very close but you must be careful not to miss "DERIVATIVES immiserate v." This strikes me as a gratuitously indirect way of doing things, while further I'm used to seeing an indication right away as to whether the verb in question is transitive, intransitive, or both. I see no good reason to omit "vt" or "vi", as applicable.
An older reader might be reluctant to accept the decision to forget about those nuances that at one time were signalled by a capital letter, at least in the writing of some authors. Under "capitalism" there is reference to "the state" as denoting the inherently uncountable abstraction that transcends the individual. It used to be permissible in this case to write "the State", with the uncountable thus elevated above the countable. A nice distinction, but one that for some reason editors now tend to disallow. The press is by degrees abandoning nuances. Similarly in the article on "communism" there is no reference to "Communism", no acknowledgement of a distinction once made, no explanation for the curious reader of an older text. Here, incidentally, "their" is used to refer back to "each person". From this and the use of other constructions it may be inferred that the Concise now defers to Political Correctness. Regrettable, in my view. There is a case for seeing PC as sinister and the brigade behind it as officious. These people will alter Shakespeare if they can get their hands on him ( "...thou canst not then be false to anybody").
"Arthrosis" and "regressivity" are two of the nouns I have so far failed to find. I was surprised. I looked up "jobsworth" and "address" to see what the Concise would say about stress, but in these two cases, and many others, there is no indication. In some cases the material to the right of a word is a mix of comment and definition, as in the case of e.g. "acerb: another term for acerbic" (the two nouns occurring in boldface). Why throw in "another term for"?
Thus a handful of negative points, none of them calamitous, while at the same time my fairly large Webster, fifteen years old or thereabouts, is agreeably more rigorous and consistent. (Also more expensive, to be fair.) I've nevertheless no regrets about having bought this volume, chiefly because, as I say above, it's very nice to handle and the definitions per se strike me as meticulous. There are a lot of new inclusions, some of them terms long established and some of them terms of recent origin. Where the recent ones are concerned, it will be some time yet before writers use an adjective like "impactful" in a formal text, but in most cases it is not easy to find a good reason for objecting to them and they are there for the reader who looks them up. Also included, among a vast number of entries overall, are a lot of those pairs that a reader may at some moment want to find, e.g. "coordinating conjunction". (There is no entry for "fused participle", interestingly enough.) Plenty of everyday terms are included, along with a great many formal or academic terms used less frequently - clearly this dictionary is not aimed only at people who will never look up an esoteric term. The boxes used for qualification, e.g. in the case of "gentleman" on p. 594, are a nice touch. Where pronunciation is concerned, the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet is laudable. Its appearance in many an article will appeal to those who are tired of the ad hoc guides found in some established dictionaries, my Webster included.
The punctuation throughout deserves special mention. It contrasts agreeably with what is now encountered daily in the press, where editors and their proofreaders no longer demand such things as the comma that mere decades ago a journalist would insert before a nonrestrictive relative clause. These people are determined, even under threat of torture, not to allow the second comma in "A, B, and C". In the Concise this comma, which in many a case serves to prevent ambiguity, is used without shame, apprehension, or apology. And rightly so.
Intuitively I feel this is a work that can be counted on where the primary business of a dictionary is concerned, i.e. that of telling the reader what a term means. It is manifestly the outcome of a vast amount of work. The history related in the preliminary pages, involving a great number of people and their dedication, is highly interesting and even moving.