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.)
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, firstname.lastname@example.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.