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Announcement

Issue 5 Out Today

Issue 5 is available today, free for everyone to read on themanual.org. We’re also making our digital editions, which we usually price at $15, free to all. You can download in ePub and Kindle formats, or find it listed among your issues when you log in to your account.

For now, there will be no print edition. It is my hope that we can eventually return to Issue 5 to commit these magnificent articles—some of our finest to date—to print. Please enjoy our web and digital editions freely as a token of my appreciation for your continued patience.

What’s inside

Like our previous four issues, Issue 5 includes six critical articles and six personal lessons from some of the best minds writing and working on the web today.

To start with, Eric Meyer argues for a web that takes a stance on how we should treat each other, because, as it turns out, the web isn’t neutral after all. His lesson considers the temporary discomfort that often precedes the remarkable.

Kelli Anderson leads us to the edge of language and invites us to move beyond it into experiences that are distinctly real and yet unnamed. Her lesson ricochets from youthful rule-breaking to controlled experimentation.

Jessica Collier examines the opportunity we have to write our own history through the decisions we make about language in our products. Her lesson reflects on the perspective she’s kept from the academic career she left behind.

Mills Baker advocates that we lean on technology to relieve some of the social burdens it’s created for us. In his lesson, he shares what he learned from working his way up the ranks of a call center.

Heather Ryan urges us to consider whether our work will be accessible to future generations, and why we should make sure it is. Her lesson traces deserted landscapes, real and imagined.

Finally, Kate Kiefer Lee reminds us that the work we do is not an end in itself. Instead we can each define for ourselves the place of work in our lives. Her lesson peers through the senses down a rabbit-hole of nostalgia.

Thank you

I want to thank everyone who worked hard to bring this issue together. To each of our authors, who poured so much of themselves into this issue’s articles and lessons, and our illustrators, for their beautiful companion pieces, thank you most of all.

A particular debt of gratitude is owed to Lisa Sanchez, our Editor In Chief, for singled-handedly sewing this issue together—and also Paulo Pereira, for preparing our web and digital editions. Lisa, Paulo, please know that I am humbled to work with such talented, generous, and supportive friends. Thank you.

Thanks as ever to our friends at MailChimp and Hover, for their support in publishing this issue.

And to everyone reading, thank you. These pieces are for you, lovingly gifted by our authors, and bolstered by our illustrators. Do their work justice. Consume every word with the passion in which they were delivered to us. Share them far and wide.

Announcement

Hiatus

Five years ago, we had the idea of giving every Build attendee a book. We decided to give this book a rather ominous title: “The Manual.” The Manual would be a collection of editorial exploring design on the web, bound in a beautiful print artifact, with a small print run limited to just the attendees of that year’s conference. As I explored the idea, and began to share it with others, it became clear that The Manual had a broader appeal than just the 300 attendees of a design conference.

As I spoke with other friends in the industry, there was a common frustration being expressed at the current state of design publications that catered to us. Writing on web design was dominated by tutorials, listicles, and interviews. While long-form, critical writing was happening within our community, it was mostly happening sporadically, and mostly on personal blogs. No publication existed that was encouraging, curating, and compensating this kind of writing.

Five years, two Kickstarter projects, 30 contributors, and countless collaborators later, The Manual has collected and encouraged writing like very few other publications have. We’ve given a home to influential ideas, emerging theories, and deeply moving stories. The Manual has provided a space for each of our contributors to be honest and vulnerable unlike any publication within our practice. For that, I am tremendously proud.

Today, I’m making public something which has been true in private for some time. The Manual is on an indefinite hiatus.

What’s been going on?

The Manual is an independent publication, which means it belongs to me and me alone. Working independently affords you total control over the work you put out into the world, but complete ownership over something also means that when you fail, your work fails with you.

Since the summer of 2014, I have been struggling with serious depression. While the circumstances of which are not yet something I’m comfortable discussing in public, it has been a rough couple of years to say the very least.

Fortunately, things have improved significantly, and I’m feeling optimistic again—a feeling I was worried I’d lost forever. Unfortunately, over the last two years The Manual has become inextricably tangled with all of this—so much so that in order to move forward and better care for myself, I know that I need to step down from my role as publisher.

I have been working hard these past few months to find a new home for The Manual. Unfortunately, several promising leads have ultimately come to nothing. What we have in The Manual is a particular kind of something, and it takes a particular kind of someone to lead it. (If you think you might be that kind of person, of course, please get in touch.)

What’s next?

Today, we’re publishing Issue 5, free for all to enjoy. Unfortunately there will be no print edition, and work will not—for now—continue on to future issues. I will continue to try to find a home for The Manual, or to at least find a more fortunate end to this story.

Our online store will remain open, with all issues discounted 50%. For those of you who wish to help, please consider purchasing an issue or two to complete your collection, or to share with a friend. All proceeds will go towards compensating our authors and illustrators.

Our support email address, hi@themanual.org, now forwards to my personal inbox. If you wish to be refunded for your subscription, please email me, and I will do my best to personally compensate you as soon as I can.

To everyone who ever contributed, or bought an issue, shared a favorite article with a friend, backed our Kickstarter projects, or sent us a kind email or tweet—thank you all so, so much. Paulo, Lisa, Liz, Carolyn, Julie, Jez, Frank, Mari, Marc, Dave, thank you most of all.

While I’m heartbroken, I’m also tremendously proud of all that we did accomplish. I could not have done this without you.

The End, for now.

Announcement

Shipping improvements

Since we relaunched The Manual late last year, we’ve been working to identify the barriers that prevent more people from reading and supporting The Manual. Putting all our editorial on the web for free, as well as adding various new editions, has proved a good first step. Today, we’re removing another significant barrier: shipping cost.

Now, when you order a copy of the print edition through our online shop, you should find the shipping cost between 50—75% lower than before.

For example, it now costs just $5.45 (USD) to ship a single issue to an address in the EU, where it used to be $15.30. Canada is now $9.68, where it was $21.25. Best of all, we can now get books to Australia and New Zealand for $7.43, where it was previously $27.10. (Keep in mind, a single print edition sells for $25 — quite the improvement!)

We’re still shipping books from our two warehouses in L.A and London, and we’re hoping to reduce the cost of shipping for some countries even further by moving stock to Toronto, Berlin, and Sydney in the coming months. We’re also close to getting copies of The Manual into a bunch of your favorite independent design bookstores — all across the world.

Already, the majority of our readers are enjoying our articles through their favorite read later service or on their ebook readers and tablets, but want to support further issues of The Manual by owning copies of our beautiful print edition. Hopefully, the improvements we’re announcing today, we’re making that all the more easier.

Behind the Scenes

Our New Identity

When The Manual, Everywhere started to take shape, we realized we needed a renewed identity to reflect our new multi-format nature. We wanted a mark that befit a modern-day publisher and honored the modern but timeless character of the articles and lessons we publish – a mark that could stand on its own without relying solely on typography.

For that, we turned to Brent Couchman, the founder of Moniker, whose simple-looking yet powerful branding work we had admired for a while. When Brent handed in his first round of work, we immediately fell in love with the mark we now use today:

Here’s what Brent had to say about it:

The initial idea came from a line in the Letter from the Publisher for the first issue of The Manual: “It’s clear that a number of us are sensing a shift; we feel the tectonic plates of design realigning.”

This idea of shifting was interesting and applied to the project in multiple ways. First, it tied into the overall theme of The Manual (the ever-shifting internet), as well as the next phase, which included taking the Manual from print to any and every screen.

The new logo, as you see it, is just one of the many possible versions it can take. Its ripples can shrink to accommodate a smaller area or expand to fill a larger canvas. We asked Brent to apply the new logo to merchandise for our Kickstarter SUPPORTER reward: a crisp black t-shirt and a smart white canvas tote bag.

Here’s Brent again on the flexibility of the mark:

Rather than using the logo on every item and risking overkill, we built a flexible pattern that could be scaled and expanded to fit at different sizes. For items like totes and t-shirts, it can scale up depending on the size of the object it’s on. It’s a fun way to extend the language of the icon.

We’re elated that our new logo perfectly captures this new phase for The Manual. We’re also excited to continue working with Brent on a special mark for The Fellowship. As we do so, we’ll continue to share progress on Twitter, so follow @themanual to stay in touch.

Editorial

A New Path in Publishing

Since making the decision (and launching the Kickstarter) to publish The Manual online for free, we’ve heard positive reactions from long-time and new readers alike. Yet we wouldn’t be surprised if some wondered — with all our articles and lessons available online for free, why would anyone pay for our ebook, audiobook, and print editions?

It’s a good question, and one we grappled to answer ourselves as we pulled together our Kickstarter proposal. Matthew Butterick, who experimented with a similar path using his publicly-available online book, Prac­ti­cal Ty­pog­ra­phy, addressed this better than we ever could:

Still, read­ers could rea­son­ably com­plain that they haven’t been given enough op­por­tu­ni­ties to change their habit. So here you have it: a book that in­vites you to pay. Not be­cause you have to. Not be­cause you want to. Not even be­cause you should. Rather, be­cause the al­ter­na­tive—starv­ing the con­tent you en­joy—is against your interests.

We flipped our publishing model from paid print to a free web edition and paid ebook, audiobook, and print subscriptions to embrace Butterick’s philosophy. We’re inviting you to pay, and we encourage you to contribute to whatever measure you can to help support good work and keep it openly available on the web.

Going Everywhere

The World Wide Web was founded on an idea of generosity, with all nodes of the network sharing information with one another, freely and openly for all. This same generosity – of sharing, of trading interesting work – brought the field of design to where it is today.

We couldn’t contribute to a full measure when our work was bound by a print paywall, so we’re changing our publishing process to echo the way our discipline has grown. By publishing The Manual freely and openly on the web, we hope to honor those same principles and continue to move the web forward.

We know this is a risk, but we’re positive that it’s one worth taking. We believe our openness will be met with generosity and a shared sense of responsibility from our readers. We hope you’ll prove us right, and back us on Kickstarter

Preview

Preview Our New Ebook Edition

When we started to design the ebook edition of The Manual, we knew we’d have to roll up our sleeves and start from scratch to create a unique experience for our readers.

We’re pleased to say the finished sample of Issue 4 turned out beautifully. It contains Wilson Miner’s article, “Perennial Design,” and his companion lesson. We’re excited to share both with you today in multiple formats:

Download our Issue 4 ebook sample in ePub and Kindle formats.

We’ve previously shared Wilson’s article in both our new web and audiobook editions. Along with the upcoming print edition, they complete the new multi-edition nature of The Manual, Everywhere.

Availability

For now, the best way to access our ebook editions is to back our Kickstarter project. Pledge of £25 (~$40 / €30) or more to get ebook editions of Issues 4, 5, and 6 — that’s more than 10% off the cost of buying them separately, and you’ll also get exclusive access to the ebooks two weeks before they go on general sale.

But hurry — there’s only three days left, and ~20% to go on our project.

Later this year, you’ll be able to buy DRM-free ebooks from our shop in both ePub, Kindle and PDF formats. All print and audiobook editions will include a free ebook edition. If you purchased any of our previous issues in print, we’ll send you an ebook for free.

Constraints and Decisions

Compared to printed books, the device-agnostic and non-strictly linear nature of ebooks imply not only different constraints, but also some extra decisions to be made. Here are a few of ours:

First page

When you open our ebooks, you go straight to our content, not a cover followed by legalese or tables of content. Since the table of contents is usually available from a dedicated button or menu option, and readers likely familiarized themselves with the author list before buying, we get out of the way and let readers go straight to enjoying our articles and lessons.

Illustrations

Contrary to our print editions, illustrations aren’t placed amongst an article’s text. In print, a spread with an illustration on one page will always have text on the other, letting you continue to read without an additional page turn. In ebooks, most readers read with a single page visible at a time, so we placed illustrations at the beginning of the article.

We made sure browsing around is easy. Along with the customary Table of Contents and List of Illustrations pages at the beginning of the book, the Table of Contents on your e-reader will show you each author’s article and lesson nested under their names1.

Furthermore, when you jump between chapters2, you’ll find that an article’s illustration is in a separate chapter from its text — meaning you’ll always see the article’s title and author when you use this feature, even if an illustration precedes the piece.

Footnotes

In ebook reading devices and apps that support this new feature found in the ePub 3 specification, you’ll be able to tap a footnote reference to see its content in a popover without being sent to the end of the article.

Closing Thoughts

We hope you like this new way of reading The Manual. More affordable and immediate than our beloved print edition, it will bring our work to a larger audience and let you read our articles and lessons everywhere you want.

If you love The Manual and want to enjoy all our editions in ebook formats, please consider backing consider backing our Kickstarter project.

  1. This may not work perfectly in every device/app.

  2. Some ebook reading devices or apps don‘t let readers quickly jump through chapters.

Announcement

You’re Invited: Join the Fellowship

In early 2014, as we were building our new website, we invited a small group people to look at an early beta and give us their feedback. We asked them to criticize anything they felt warranted another look — our design, text, and particularly our early take on the new subscription model.

The feedback we received was plentiful and honest, shattering our assumptions and making us question everything we had created. Over the course of the following months, we worked together to make The Manual better for everyone, and we’re incredibly grateful to this early group for their contributions.

Deeper Relationship

We greatly enjoyed this enriching and valuable process and wanted to extend it beyond the website in the immediate future. We wanted to formalize a more intimate relationship between ourselves and a passionate, dedicated group of readers who loved The Manual and wanted to help shape it.

So we established The Fellowship — a limited, private, and intimate community of readers who want to support The Manual in a more significant way, and who will come with us in the journey that is making The Manual.

Their ideas and expertise will become a key part of shaping its future – and, in return, we’ll give them exclusive first-hand behind-the-scenes access to what we’re building, along with some unique treats in gratitude and appreciation for their effort.

Purposely Small

Beginning with our upcoming Issue 5 and expansions to the website, we’ll share all progress with members of The Fellowship as it happens, and we’ll listen closely to their ideas and comments. We want them to feel invested in The Manual as part of the team, celebrating our small victories and sharing our concerns when things get rough.

In order to assemble this tight-knit group of people and foster a relationship where listening, discussion, and collaboration are both encouraged and feasible, we’re limiting The Fellowship to 25 members and setting membership costs at £300 per year.

For now, you can join The Fellowship through our Kickstarter project. But post-Kickstarter, we’ll dedicate a part of our website to explain the motivation and the goals of The Fellowship and invite interested readers to email us. Then we’ll go through the admission process in a more personal and human way.

Giving Back

We’ll reward The Fellowship members with unique treats — membership tokens and bespoke artifacts, advance copies of all our editions (web, ebook, audiobook, and print), alpha access to all new website features, occasional Skype calls for discussions, and even invitations to join our team in our Slack room to celebrate launches.

However, we don’t consider these treats to be the biggest rewards of The Fellowship, and we don’t want them to be the deciding factor for readers considering to join — they’re simply our way to say thank you to our fellows for helping The Manual become a better publication.

Closing Thoughts

The Fellowship — as many other new things we’re introducing with The Manual, Everywhere — is an experiment. We’re very bullish on its importance to the future of the publication, but as with other things, it too will be shaped by our members.

We understand it’s not for everyone, and it was never intended to be — but if you love The Manual as much as we do, we’d be delighted to have you join The Fellowship.

Preview

Preview Our Issue 4 Audiobook

We headed to Women’s Audio Mission in San Francisco, California last week to record all our articles and lessons in the upcoming Issue 4 with our narrator, Roman Mars of 99% Invisible — and today we’re happy to share two samples with you.

Interested? Listen to our Letter from the Publisher to get a feel for what’s in store in Issue 4:

…and check out Wilson Miner’s lesson on how to find the right work for yourself:

We’d like to thank Roman Mars for his excellent narration and all the talented folks at Women’s Audio Mission for their outstanding work in recording and editing our issue. We especially want to thank Terri Winston, WAM’s executive director, and Laura Dean, the engineer with whom we worked on this project. The entire project could not have gone more smoothly, and we look forward to working with them again in the future.

We have much more in the works for October as we open pre-orders on our print books and ramp up production on our ebooks – stay tuned!

Announcement

Welcoming Roman Mars, our Issue 4 Audiobook Narrator

We’re writing to you this week from Women’s Audio Mission in San Francisco, where we’re recording with Roman Mars, the narrator of the audiobook edition of Issue 4.

Roman is the creator of 99% Invisible, a radio show about design, architecture, and the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world. He’s an internationally-known voice, fantastic speaker, and incredible creative talent, and we’re truly excited to work with him.

We also are thrilled to share we’re recording Issue 4 at Women’s Audio Mission, the only non-profit recording studio in the United States that’s owned and operated entirely by women. Women’s Audio Mission is dedicated to the training and advancement of women in music production and the recording arts, where women traditionally are significantly under-represented.

We’re grateful to David McCreath of It Might Get Personal for introducing us to Terri Winston, the organization’s founder, and excited to build a relationship with the team there. You can follow Terri and the WAM crew on Twitter @womensaudio and find more information on their classes and community work at womensaudiomission.org.

We’ll share further audiobook details in the future as we move toward recording further issues – join us @themanual to keep tabs on our progress and sign up for email updates if you’d like advance looks at what’s in the works!

Announcement

We’re Launching a Kickstarter!

Previously, we told you Issue 4 had gone to print, then gave you a deeper look at Issue 4’s authors and illustrators.

Both times, we mentioned we had some big news to share, and here it is: we’re launching a Kickstarter, with three community-oriented goals to free our content and make it more broadly available.

Big Goals, Open Future

1) We’re publishing a free and open web edition.

We’re dropping our copyright and putting all our articles and lessons online for everyone to read and share. Everything will be available under a Creative Commons license on a brand-new responsive site designed for reading.

2) We’re publishing everywhere.

In addition to our print edition, you can now find us on any ebook device, audiobook form, and the previously mentioned web edition.

3) We’re offering “pay if you want” subscriptions.

You can sign up for a recurring subscription for the web, ebook, audiobook, and/or print editions if you’d like to support our work.

To learn more, watch our Kickstarter video, below, and read through the project description — we hope you’ll be as excited as we are about what’s in store and back our work.

In return, we’re giving our backers early access to everything we’re building now and everything we’ll build in the future — along with a few extra rewards, including a trip to Iceland, where The Manual is printed. We’ll rent an Airbnb, tour the factory, get an up-close view of Issue 5, and talk about the future of our work. Pack your snow boots!

New Identity, Site Design, and URL

We also are unveiling a brand-new look, including:

  • A new logo and identity: Designed by Brent Couchman of Moniker, it’s simple and striking, and it reflects our movement across print into digital media.
  • A new website: It’s elegantly responsive and designed with reading in mind, and it allows you to browse all articles and lessons by topic and issue.
  • A new URL: Our current URL always felt like a mouthful, so we’ve moved to themanual.org.

Thank You

These are big steps, and we continue to take them because we have your support. Thank you for helping to bring us this far — we hope you’ll continue to enjoy The Manual, Everywhere.

If you have any questions, please, get in touch! You can email us at hi@themanual.org or tweet us @themanual.


Final call on our sale: We’re discounting Issues 1-3 and our custom engraved plywood case until end of day Monday, September 15th. Check our store for details.

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