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
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.
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.