Garner’s Modern American Usage: style guides defunct?

When I first started reading Bryan Garner on legal English, little did I know he would one day write a book on American English usage. This is a book that has a recommendation on the cover by William Safire and came out in its third edition in August. Here it is at You can read his defence of his prescriptivism in the preface there.

I hope this doesn’t keep him away from legal usage. But perhaps, having written on that subject and revised Black’s Law Dictionary, he has had enough of it.

At all events, Bryan Garner has sent out a call for his readers to buy one or more copies of the new third edition at or

This is because the main U.S. bookstore chains are not stocking the book and they have told OUP that they consider usage guides a “defunct category”.

It might be even better for Americans to go to their bookstore and order it.

Or why not order the Chicago Style Guide, or, for Britain, New Hart’s Rules, or Judith Butcher on copyediting? Here’s a Wikipedia list.

I’m not sure what the situation of British bookshop chains is, but I suppose even if Germany is being Thalia-ized, the Duden is safe.

Here’s the rest of Garner’s email, which someone sent to me:

If you’re curious to see what effect you’re having, watch the rankings on or in coming days and weeks. We’ll be alerting the major chains to those numbers, and we want to get as close to the top 50 as we can. If you’re trying to order and see that the book is labeled “out of stock,” order anyway: the effort is also to ensure that the online booksellers keep adequate stocks.

In return for this favor – it’s a grassroots effort – I’ll be happy to inscribe copies that you send to LawProse for that purpose, if you (1) include a filled-out FedEx airbill for returning them to you, and (2) suggest an appropriate inscription.

Thank you for whatever help you can provide in this endeavor to show booksellers that the concern for good English is alive and well.

Bryan A. Garner

Bryan A. Garner
LawProse, Inc.
14180 Dallas Parkway
Suite 280
Dallas, TX 75254
(214) 691-8588

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