Are Factory Service Manuals destined to the dustbin of history?

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Oct 21, 2011
At least the paper versions.

Those for purchase by anyone.
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Many printed materials are disappearing in favor of digital documents. One of our local rags went bankrupt because they didn't step up the online content.
I think one of the problems with automotive factory service manuals is that vehicles are getting more and more complex and computerized. So a new factory service manual nowadays might not make any sense to anyone besides a proper technician. Even if it makes sense to someone, they might not have the required software and gadgetry needed to diagnose and repair modern vehicles. No more rebuilding engines with a crescent wrench and baling wire
Shop manuals decades ago were just oversized paperbacks. A printed shop manual these days would probably take up an entire book case.
This is literally my business!

I work for an automaker and part of my group's responsibility is authoring and publishing service manuals (in additional to a whole bunch of other things).

To answer the question: Yes, we do still publish printed material. We don't print a lot, but there are still customers who want printed material and are willing to pay for it.

The majority of our delivery is electronic. This is available to purchase both on a subscription basis or as a USB drive for a single model year vehicle.

The printed stuff is typically purchased by upfitters and truck rental companies, so trucks and vans are most popular. There are also some customers of "prestige" models that like to have a print manual as a collectible for their vehicle.

Originally Posted by Saabist
A printed shop manual these days would probably take up an entire book case.

Yeah, pretty much. Last I remember hearing it discussed, a print manual for a full size truck is 9 volumes.
Printed? Yes.

Even for electronic FSM's, many Euro cars are starting to build their service information into the scan tool software. Test plans get developed based on the fault code.
We had paper service manuals tilted on a rack when I started at UPS as a semi mechanic. Other mechanics thumbed through them with dirty hands and they were a mess.
The only time I use paper today is a schematic dealing with an electrical issue.
We still get the printed manuals, but they go upstairs to collect dust. All of the techs use the electronic ones at each of their stations. Helm publishes the Ford manuals, both owners and service.
I would imagine the digital versions can be updated to reflect changes in procedures or parts. Print versions would need a addendum
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