High cost AP Stylebook provides great value for journalists

Let’s cut to the chase: At $28.99, the price for the AP Stylebook app is astronomically high. We can complain about the price all we want, but it doesn’t matter—journalists should invest in this app. Why? Because it’s a necessary tool for writers and editors. Plus, the app is great. 

As a copy editor, I often reference my printed version of the AP Stylebook. But because I don’t work in a traditional office environment, it’s not always nearby. My iPhone, on the other hand, is.

Yes, journalists can order a print version of the guide for between $11.75 and $18.95 (plus shipping) depending on professional affiliation and hard copies can be shared. Online access to the AP Stylebook is $25 per year, and although I’m sure the company doesn’t want this membership shared, you know it happens. In contrast, I don’t see the sharing of iPhones becoming commonplace anytime soon. 

The AP Stylebook app is divided into sections (such as business terms and punctuation) and utilizes an alphabetical list to separate the chapters. I love that I can make notes on entries, or mark entries I often reference as favorites for quick access. There is also a section to create new entries for a publication that might have specific style rules.

To soften the blow of the price, early adopters will receive the 2010 AP Stylebook app for free. This is a  nice gesture, but also indicative that AP expects you to pay $28.99 every year. Considering the widespread budget cuts in newsrooms and the lack of journalism jobs for others, the only word for this annual fee is ouch. I’d like to see the AP offer some sort of repeat buyer discount if the price remains high—after all, no trees are dying for the cause and updates to the app shouldn’t cost the AP much more than its initial outlay. 

When the 2010 version rolls out, I’d like to see a section or some symbol to denote entries that have been updated or are brand new. I’d also like to see the “Ask an Editor” Q&A integrated along with the AP Stylebook’s Twitter feed.

Even with its high price, I’m still giving AP Stylebook a perfect rating because I know it’s going to integrate seamlessly into my life and become one of my most used apps. Plus, I can always write it off as a business expense.

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