Why Not eBooks?

Sometimes people ask us why we opted to write Online Books rather than downloadable eBooks in PDF or ePub (Kindle and iThings)  format. Here’s the answer:

It’s a Moving Target

One of the most wonderful things about offshore sailing is that we never know it all. In fact, the more we learn and the more years we spend voyaging, the more we realize that we have more to learn.

And that’s way cool, but it’s not great for an eBook. Not only would we almost certainly disagree with some of our own eBooks within a few months of publishing them, we wouldn’t even finish them, because we would keep revising things we wrote the year before—there would be just no end to it!

With our Online Books, we can, and do, revise and improve in real time.

eBooks Are Static

eBooks are static. If you read an eBook and don’t get the information you are looking for, you can’t easily ask us a question.

Worse still, if you are reading an eBook and realize you have come up with a better way, or maybe just a tweak to what we are suggesting, there is no way for you to contribute that so that other readers can benefit, unlike with our Online Books where you can leave a comment. And since many of our best ideas come from those of you who comment, we don’t want to take the retrograde step of writing in a vacuum, as we would have to do with an eBook.

A Better Way—Online Books

You can read about how online books work by CLICKING HERE.

Enjoyed this article? Please share:

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Richard Graver May 23, 2013, 2:21 pm

    I think it is a great idea and well worth the money. I hit the join button several times but I don’t seem to be getting anywhere. ???

    • John May 23, 2013, 2:44 pm

      Hi Richard,

      Thanks for the positive reception.

      Duh, me I mean, not you. I had the same graphic on the join page as the post, so it looked like nothing was changing. I worked for three months on this and missed that—sometimes I scare myself!

  • Larry Robbins May 23, 2013, 2:30 pm

    I’d love to see a list of the titles in the book club. ( I’m ready to whip out my plastic) 🙂

    • John May 23, 2013, 2:46 pm

      Hi Larry,

      Double Duh, (see above) there is now a link to the library page showing the titles with a brief description of each—I really do scare myself!

  • Larry Robbins May 23, 2013, 2:48 pm

    found it and joined

    • John May 23, 2013, 2:57 pm

      Thanks, Larry!

  • Richard Graver May 23, 2013, 3:13 pm

    I was able to join when I realized I had to hit the subscribe button. 🙂 When you hit the join button it probably would be a good idea to take the person directly to the payment page.

  • paul Mills May 23, 2013, 3:54 pm

    I think this idea is FAB and spot on, well done AAC team!.

    I will join soon as possible and enjoy the books greatly, for me the added benefit is that I don’t need to follow each post, but can choose a more chunky area to have a focused look at.

    One small thing,for me $18 a year is not enough to support what you offer and do. Is there a simple way that you could include a voluntary extra contribution button…. or can I only do this by advertising myself on AAC – complete with close up photograph…. scary thought 🙂


    • John May 24, 2013, 6:50 am

      Hi Paul,

      That’s very kind. We are planning a sustaining member class that will be more expensive and include some additional benefits. It will probably be a few weeks, while we get it all sorted, before we have it available .

  • Chris May 23, 2013, 6:48 pm

    Transaction Page says $8Can…
    This page and my receipt say $9Can…

    • John May 23, 2013, 7:09 pm

      Oh no, now I’m up to triple Duh! Does that mean I struck out?
      Let’s see half of 18 is…wait, wait, I can do this…8…no it’s 9.

      Thanks Chris, fixed now.

  • Jacques Landry May 23, 2013, 8:00 pm

    This sounds great! Looking forward to reading all of them.

    Just a short question : While on the boat, which is when I would be reading this, I pay per hours of connectivity! Can we “print” these (like pdf) so they can be read later without being connected ? Would be nice. If not, I’ll have to read this while at home !


    • John May 24, 2013, 6:53 am

      Hi Jacques,

      Good question, At the moment he answer is no, unless you laboriously saved each post (chapter) to your computer for later reading—not very elegant.

      However, if this goes well, having a PDF version of the books for download is a possibility, although, of course, that would mean the interactivity (comments) would go away.

  • David May 24, 2013, 9:55 am

    Thank God Phyllis is here to protect us from spiders.

    • John May 25, 2013, 7:57 am

      Hi david,

      You don’t know the half of it! I’m a way nicer person since Phyllis has been in my life to keep me under control.

  • Douglas Pohl May 24, 2013, 10:27 am

    Tried clicking on eBooks but none of the pull-down menus are active… John you really need better webmaster QA practices…. lol
    I’ll check back later and see if you have the links fixed.

    • John May 24, 2013, 1:12 pm

      Hi Doug,

      Thanks for the heads up, but I’m mystified. I have tested under Chrome, Firefox, Explorer and Safari on ipad, and it works fine. The pull down menu shows four items and all of them take you to the correct linked pages.

      Let’s make sure we are talking about the same thing: Are you referring to the pull down menu at the top of the page on the right named “eBooks” next to “Advertising”?

      If so, please advise what browser and hardware you are using.

  • Norris May 24, 2013, 10:34 am

    Hi John,

    The payment site is presented such that it appears the only payment option is via PayPal (which is how I paid). It does ask for credit card info below the PayPal section, but that could be interpreted to mean that info has to be provided in order to join PayPal, as opposed to paying the membership fee directly by credit card?

    Great site and a very reasonable annual fee.


    • John May 24, 2013, 1:22 pm

      Hi Norris,

      Thanks very much for joining. Yes, you do have to join Paypal. It was the only way to enable the automatic renewal each year. We agonized over this, but decided it was the best way to keep the administration load down for both the member and us. The thing is at $18.00/year, if we end up doing a bunch of administration is will cost us more than the membership in time!

      The other big issue for us was to make sure that we at AAC did not store your credit card information, or even see it. We just don’t want that responsibility.

      Having said all that, those that don’t want to join Paypal, can do so by using the procedures on the questions and answers page.

  • David May 24, 2013, 2:52 pm

    Love it. Just signed up. Happy to be able to support a site we find so useful. Worth every penny.

    Hopefully your success will serve as an icebreaking tug towards more high-value user-supported content, rather than the shallow stuff so common when it’s only support is meager online ad dollars.
    David & Elena
    s/v Tigress

  • Allan West May 25, 2013, 1:44 am

    Great site, really enjoy reading it in my spare time.I promptly joined the library but but very disappointed to find that there are no ebooks as I know them.( Aren’t eBooks books that you pay for and can download to be read later at your leisure?) It is great that you have brought all the relevant posts under one title but these are not eBooks. I agree with Jaques and am looking forward to a quiet time when I can read these as a download on my iPad- with or without the comments. But please, don’t keep promoting the current library as ebooks if we can’t download them.

    • John May 25, 2013, 7:18 am

      Hi Allan,

      Sorry you feel that way. We will be happy to refund your money if you feel you were misled. I thought we had been pretty clear in the post about how they were presented, but perhaps not. Just send us an email and we will immediately issue a refund.

      We may add the ability to download them as PDF’s, but, as we explained in the post, the process of formatting etc is very time consuming so we would have less time to post here. We would also need to charge a great deal more that $18.00 a year. Even if we charged just $5.00 per book (less than most eBooks) that would be $100, for a start, and all future books would cost you too, instead of being included in your subscription.

      I guess I’m confused a bit too. If you have an iPad you can read them as they are sitting in an armchair. So what would be the advantage of downloading them, other than being able to read them when you have no internet. Am I missing something?

      By distributing them the way we are, they are interactive and will be regularly expanded and updated much more easily and frequently than if they were PDFs.

      Does anyone else have any thoughts on this? We would be the first to admit that we are breaking new ground here, and learning in the process. That’s the reason we are only charging $9.00 for the first year.

    • John May 25, 2013, 7:42 am

      Hi Allan,

      Further to my last. After a bit of thought, I think I may have come up with a solution that gives us both the best of both worlds:

      There are literally dozens of Apps for the iPad and iPhone that allow you to download web pages, fully formatted, for later reading when offline. Typically, they cost $5.00 or so, some are free. Even at $5.00 it’s a lot cheaper solution than us formatting everything as PDFs and then charging say $5.00 a book, and it maintains the interactivity and up to date nature of the AAC library too—what’s
      not to like?

      Over the next week or so I will buy and test a bunch of these utilities and then do a post on the best one.

      What do you think?

  • Larry Robbins May 25, 2013, 7:50 am

    These (ebooks) or (articles) are quite interactive with links in the text and comments often containing links.
    When the subject of downloading for offline reading came up, I downloaded a couple of chapters of a topic (ebook), went into “airplane mode” and found the result quite limiting.
    It’s been a while since I downloaded for offline access in a web browser, but I remember the ability to select how many “layers of link jumps” were synced.
    I think this bookclub service is a great idea and good value, but agree that calling the interactive content ebooks may be mis-leading.
    John, I admire the way that you have jumped into the deep end with this project. Great Idea!!!!

    • John May 25, 2013, 9:24 am

      Hi Larry,

      Thanks for thoughts and positive comments.

      On “airplane mode”. Even if we made them available as PDFs, you would have the same limitation of the links not working while offline. Again, am I missing something?

      The bottom line is that if we make them available as fully formatted PDFs the price will have to go up, way up because it’s a huge amount of work to do right and the potential market is small, by it’s very nature, so that work must be amortised over relatively few copies. I really can’t see how we could do PDF eBooks for less than $5.00 for the short ones and $10.00 for the long ones. And even at that price, it would be more of a labour of love, like our cruising guide, rather than a viable business model.

      The other issue is what do our readers want us to spend our time on, messing with multiple formats or creating great content. We simply don’t don’t have time to do both.

      As to not calling them eBooks, that might be an option, although I have to say I’m stumped for an alternative that will work marketing wise. Anybody got any ideas?

  • Larry Robbins May 25, 2013, 9:37 am

    Let’s say it’s a given that online connectivity is a necessity to get the most out of what is being presented. A PDF is not going to offer the path of following links to effectively research an area of interest. It is a static form that doesn’t appeal to me. Some research into offline browser synchronization would be beneficial. (I may get around to it and if so will post my findings).
    I have already made contact with a wind genny vendor as a result of using the ” bookclub”. I could not have done so using a PDF ebook.

    as to what to call this entity, I think that the connective interactivity should be conferred in what it is called. what that is ?????

    • John May 25, 2013, 10:08 am

      Hi Larry,

      Good point. Although I do disagree that PDF’s can’t be interactive. Our own Norwegian Cruising Guide eBook PDF includes about 5000 links, some internal for jumping around the content, and some external that work any time you are online.

      The provision of this feature accounts for Phyllis’ glassy stare and slight twitch. Said ebook is also Euro 29.00 ($40.00) and you have to pay that every time we bring out a new edition.

  • Jacques Landry May 25, 2013, 3:00 pm

    Hi John.

    I think e-book was not too far from what it is, but not the same as the e-books that some are used to. Maybe it could be called an “on-line e-library”, or why not an “on-line e-book” ! You can indeed get a “web robot crawler thing-a-ma-jiggy” to grab some of the site. That would give you a “snapshot” of the comments at that time and all the links (for the number of levels you specify). The formatting will be “crap”, it would be a long job, but it can work.

    Don’t worry too much, as I think the best solution is to read this when we are at port or at home, and put it into practice when we are away from WiFi signal! Isn’t that the idea anyway 😉

    I have read most if not all of the material that seems to be in these e-machin over the last few months, but will register as I wish to support your efforts!

    • John May 26, 2013, 9:08 am

      Hi Jacques,

      Thanks very much. I like “on-line e-book”. I’m working on some other solutions, but I will not be surprised if your suggestion is what we end up doing.

      And thanks VERY much for the support, we really appreciate it.

  • Louise Johnson May 25, 2013, 6:40 pm

    Hey John, this is a great idea and well overdue – a brilliant way to encourage us punters to contribute a little $/£/Euro to the interesting information, thoughts and analysis that you, Phyllis and ‘him indoors’ provide.

    What I like is that an eBook provides a more meaty read of a topic, rather than dipping in for a ten-minute exploratory wander.

    I hope every AAC user takes the opportunity to support you guys a little – sign up, sign up!

    • John May 26, 2013, 9:10 am

      Hi Louise,

      Thanks very much. No wonder Colin produces such great content. He has such great encouragement! Make sure you drag him away from the computer for a swim.

  • richard s. May 26, 2013, 3:21 pm

    technophobe that i am john, i do well just to keep up with the basic aac website postings so that is my limit although i plan to continue contributing financially and otherwise to the cause as often and as much as i can


    richard s., tampa bay, s/v lakota