I use the Chicago Manual of Style as my primary and de facto style guide when writing. I paid about $45 plus shipping for this book on Amazon. It costs $100 to pick up a copy here in Australia. The online version is $35 as an annual subscription.
As I continue to improve my authoring work flows, I am using more and more cloud-based systems and apps which are now licensed on a subscription basis. I made a major foray into subscribing to the Adobe Creative Cloud and have been very happy with the results. I get access to 20 major applications, including the big four in the Adobe line-up of Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Dreamweaver. These apps are being constantly updated and would have cost several thousand dollars to buy. Additonally, I would have to occasionally substantially pay for upgrades. I am paying $49 per month which was far easier than finding several thousand dollars and worrying about future upgrade costs.
But the Chicago Manual of Style only cost me $57 (including shipping) and seldom changes (even though it is constantly adding content, especially for sourcing and providing citation of online and alternative material) . My initial reaction was why would I pay $35 per year and $350 over ten years when I can get the same content for $57 over that period of time. I was not looking at the business case properly though. I was only looking at the buy versus lease costs and making the wrong decision.
I love serendipitously sitting down with my Chicago Manual of Style book to browse and learn and do that occasionally and with enjoyment. During the last month, I have been heavily copyediting my current writing project, a book on wine. This has been a serious effort. I have outlined at least a dozen mechanical copyediting phases, plus have frequent question on how to handling particular editing issues. Relying on my physical copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, I could usually find my answer within several minutes. But I needed to have a good idea where to look in the first place. And after doing this several hundred times, I recognized the many hours I was burning by researching from the physical book.
Since Chicago Manual of Style Online provides a 30-day free trial and I was into heavy copyediting, I signed up for the free trial. Within minutes, I knew I would subscribe annually and pay my $35 year after year. As an example, I used the online version to check the proper use of ‘de facto’ in the first sentence of this blog. Was it ‘defacto,’ ‘de-facto,’ or ‘de facto?’ Within seconds I had my answer. Similarly for ‘copyediting’ versus ‘copy editing’ or ‘copy-editing.’
The online version provides a hyperlinked Table of Contents to immediately go to the section you want instead of flipping through pages in the physical book. It also has a search capability in which I can enter different phrases to find what I need if my first phrase does not yield results.
Overall, I expect I am saving several hours a month using the online version. If I price my time at $50 per hour, then I am saving at least $100 per month. Not a bad return for spending $3 per month. That is the proper way to build the business case. Subscribing to the online version is an obvious decision when reviewed properly. My authoring workflow has improved in that I now spend only seconds researching an editing issue and can correct it up-front while I write. Previously, I was parking these issues into a special Scrivener Binder or Evernote as dealing with them distracted from and slowed the writing process. Now my copyediting phases are much shorter in duration and my draft copies of higher quality which is important if you are sending drafts to potential agents or publishers.
Use the right approach to building your business case and, if you are a writer, use the Chicago Manual of Style Online – you will not regret it.