More on manuals plus rescue

William Donzelli wdonzelli at
Wed Aug 19 11:18:58 CDT 2015

> My being involved in this Manuals Plus project came as a result of a large
> number of people telling me that Manuals Plus was going out of business and
> that there were a number of documents and manuals that were, if not rare or
> unique, definitely hard to find in good condition.

Welcome to the collapse of the manual business. It used to be great!
In a way, it was the easiest part of the surplus business - easy to
store, easy to sort, easy to ship, easy to copy, easy to sell.

> In terms of waiting until the last minute, I had been on the phone with the
> sole employee, Becky, since early this year.

Yes, I feel that pain. I certainly have been in similar situations. We
can not read the minds of all the parties involved with these sorts of
deals, so we do what we can. I just had a recent ham estate cleanout
that was similar - a call on Thursday from a friend (the executor)
resulted in a cleaned out shop by Sunday. My friend knew it was sort
of crappy to give such short notice, but he was only doing what the
family wanted. They dillydallied the panicked, basically.

I have found that in many of these "last minute" cases, the urgency is
just an illusion. The aforementioned Cyber Resources rescue was
hurryhurryhurry, but turned out to take months. Often the estates or
businesses folding completely understand how long it takes to shut
things down.

> Harassment and threats

WTF? Why would someone do these things, unless they wanted the building?

> and non serious offers had been coming into the
> office at various points, so the owner was not particularly interested in
> talking to outside third parties.

This I can understand. Low-ballers are everywhere. Most of them are
not even serious about finishing the job. It is sort of like some guy
that sees a classic car in the junkyard, but has no experience turning
a wrench, but figures a low-ball bid might get him in the game. It
almost never works out.

> Believe me, I wish this was much more methodical and able to be evaluated
> too. But we have essentially been given a little less than 72 hours to move
> on this, so here I am, doing my best. I would love to have had more time to
> reach out, but here we are, and there it is.

I applaud you for doing this, and had my last five or six days been so
hectic, I probably would have driven down and joined all the fun. I am
no stranger to this sort of work. I would offer advice, but I think
the time is too late.

I applaud you not just for saving the manuals, very much most of which
are simply not rare at all, but because you are actually a guy to
follow through and do it. I am generally annoyed by the old radio
folks (and I am including the test equipment guys in this group, along
with just about all the other old electric technology people), as they
see that digital archives of tech information is great - they just do
all their archiving in a half baked, unorganized way. They just do not
see that the Bitsavers model works great. Hell, many of them do not
even have mirrors, and probably barely have backups beyond a burned
DVD. More than a few has just vanished, left to rot on Geocities or

In closing, I might ask you to consider taking your sweet time getting
this stuff online. There are still some manual dealers out there. Let
them handle the decline of their business in whatever way they see
fit. All of them know it is just a matter of time - probably five
years or less. If you flood the net with the free scans, it might
really fuck them up. I know some of them, and it is not unreasonable
for me to think that they might get really annoyed by your efforts and
burn their libraries just for spite.


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