MSCD5: When and How Much!

Friends, the fifth edition of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting (otherwise known as MSCD5) will be available for purchase from the American Bar Association in mid-April 2023. To echo what a deeply nerdy reader actually said, “I feel excitement in the air!”

It has been a long time coming. I started work on it in November 2021. And it has been more than five years since the fourth edition was published, although it doesn’t seem that long ago.

The hardback print version and the ebook will each cost US$139.95. That’s US$20 more than the fourth edition, but I think it still represents good value. For one thing, you might have heard that prices have risen since 2017. Furthermore, MSCD5 weighs in at 667 pages—77 pages more than the fourth edition. Setting the price solely on the per-page price of the fourth edition would have resulted in a price of around US$135.50.

Because it’s a law book, it costs more than it would if it were a mass-market publication. By law-book standards, the price seems reasonable. For example, Tina Stark’s Drafting Contracts: How and Why Lawyers Do What They Do, a 599-page paperback, is available from the publisher for US$135. (Amazon sells it for less, but that’s unlikely to be a factor with MSCD5. For one thing, the fourth edition has been in such demand on Amazon that it wasn’t discounted at all until recently. And even now, the discount is just US$5. Also, MSCD5 won’t be available on Amazon until six months after publication.)

The ABA is looking into the possibility of offering the ebook at a discount to anyone who buys the print version. But technology considerations might prevent that from happening.

Anyone who signs up for a 2023 public series of my online course Drafting Clearer Contracts: Masterclass (2023 series to be announced in the next few days) will be entitled to a 30% discount. And any organization that hires me to do a private series of Masterclass or to give a Drafting Clearer Contracts presentation would be entitled to a crazy discount.

Given how much new material it contains, MSCD5 is a legitimate new edition. It represents a big step up from the fourth edition in ways I’ll describe once it’s available for purchase. But what I said in the fourth edition still holds true: “If you’re making decisions regarding contract language without consulting it, it’s overwhelmingly likely you’re copy-and-pasting, relying on flimsy conventional wisdom, or improvising.”

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.

4 thoughts on “MSCD5: When and How Much!”

  1. Ken,

    No need for the apologetics. Your book would be worth $1000 or more — easily. I used to go round and round in circles on whether to say X or Y in the contract. I was inconsistent as a result. I lacked confidence. But financially, it was hurting me because it was taking me … lets say … 10 hours to write a contract that I should have been able to do in 3 hours. Practically speaking, this meant I had to write off a lot of my time. Ouch!

    Since purchasing MSCD4, I can zip through contracts. The contracts have a beautiful harmony and consistency to them. And I have confidence (hopefully not from the Dunning-Kruger effect) that I know better what I’m doing … because I’m following best practices that you spent decades working out.

    I’m very grateful for your contribution to the field of contracts. The value of your work cannot be understated.

    And thank you for continuing to improve, iterate, and expand on the manual. I am eager to grab a copy of MSCD5 when it is released!

  2. I’m sure you can’t say much, Ken, but… why does the ABA insist on such odd, non-standard practices for its books? (or at least yours?) Buying directly from them is one of the most user-hostile experiences I experience on the internet, and making them the sole provider for months, and ebook same price as paper book, here in 2023, and… etc., etc.

    (This is not a criticism of the price, or your choice to use them as a publisher; both are reasonable for a niche book, but you’d think a niche publisher would be dying to make it *easier* to buy things, not harder…)

    • Hi Luis. I feel free to tell the ABA what I think! And I’ll bring your comment to their attention.

      Yes, I’d at least like to offer a discount on the ebook if you buy the print version. I’d like people overseas to be able to buy the book without having to pay a hefty shipping fee. And more generally, I’d like to make the book available to smart and determining people who, in our world of haves and have-nots, can’t afford the book.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.