Question. Tell us how this latest development came about. Does it mean the end of the real thing – the printed book?
Answer. Not at all! The print version lives on – although, given the upheavals in publishing, we’re looking no further ahead than the next edition, which will be our 7th in almost 20 years. But this move to ‘go digital’ isn’t something new.
In 2013, we created an ‘ebook’ which, because of the limits on technology (that I could find!), was sold through a ‘digital library’. This wasn’t ideal; we couldn’t control the level of service or pricing and were too often dealing with complaints. I take pride in responding personally to all feedback, so was uncomfortable with trotting out a lame, “I’m sorry, that’s outside our control”. That, and the disappointing demand for the format, meant we put our digital plans on hold.
Q. What’s changed now to get you back into the digital arena? Is it desperation about future prospects?
A. Desperation? Absolutely not! Feedback from sailors is that they want a ‘real’ book on the chart table or in the saloon. People love browsing through the photographs, the charts and the information on anchorages as they plan journeys – often over a few drinks at the end of the day’s sailing. We expect this to continue to be so, particularly amongst older ‘salts’. At the same time, we can’t ignore younger sailors coming up or older yachties switched on to digital media.
I get periodic requests for the book in PDF format; “I have everything to do with cruising on my iPad and want Southeast Asia Pilot on it too,” is a common request but, unfortunately, one that we couldn’t satisfy until now because I hadn’t found a practical way to secure our copyright in PDF form.
You asked what’s changed? Well, apart from the obvious imperative to move with the times, I’ve located a provider of a digital rights management (DRM) system that ticks all boxes. UK-based Drumlin Security (drumlinsecurity.com) not only offers what looks to be a near-perfect solution, but a friendly, proactive and flexible approach tightly focused on solutions – and at a price that makes sense.
Q. Tell our readers something about the digital edition. Will it be an exact replica of the print book?
A. In some ways, yes it’s a faithful reproduction the print book. But there’s more. Navigation is easier than in the hard copy. There are three ways to navigate the ebook: there’s the Contents Page, where a mouse click or a finger tap will take you to the chapter you want; there’s the Alphabetical Index of 600+ anchorages, all linked in the same way to individual named anchorages; and there are Bookmarks in the PDF reader. You can also make text searches and create your own bookmarks. And then there’s the potential for updates on the fly; we’ve always been limited to updates every 2-3 years, but now we can update between editions at no cost to the readers.
Q. How does it work? Is it complicated to install? Do you need to be online to read it?
A. It’s really simple. The first step is to buy the licence online at www.southeastasiapilot.com/ebook. You’ll receive a confirmation email with an authorisation code and directions to download (1) the free PDF reader and (2) the protected PDF file of the book. You then simply install the PDF reader and download the book (it’s about 60MB – so a good Internet connection helps for the download). Then you open the file in the reader, insert the authorisation code when prompted and that’s it. No more codes or connections needed.
The PDF reader is available for Windows PC, Mac OS X, iPad/iPhone and Android devices. One licence allows the book to be read on one device; licences for multiple devices will be available. The PDF file works best on larger screens (eg iPad), so is not ideal for mobile phones.
Q. And the cost? Is it a lot cheaper than print version?
A. It’s priced a little below the printed book. Some people think anything digital should be much cheaper than the equivalent paper version, but they fail to appreciate the higher cost of preparation for digital, which balances out the difference between printing paper and securing digital rights.
Q. Any other developments?
A. Yes. Following on from the Southeast Asia Pilot e-book / digital edition, we’ve just finished listing the book on Amazon worldwide, as a paperback and as a Kindle [print replica] ebook. And we’ve hired professionals to optimise Amazon-specific SEO to get us high in all relevant searches in the Amazon bookshops and Kindle ‘bookshelf’.
For buyers overseas – particularly in Europe, Australia and the Americas – the ebook, whether bought direct from our website or from Kindle, will come with a massive price benefit; currently up to (and sometimes more than) half the price paid for the print version is for delivery.
Southeast Asia Pilot awarded “Best Specialist Travel Guide 2021”
Southeast Asia Pilot has been recognised in the annual APAC Insider Business Awards with the accolade “Best Specialist Travel Guide 2021”.
“Now in its sixth year, the APAC Business Awards celebrates the success of companies of all sizes across the APAC region, regardless of industry,” explain the awards organisers.
“Given the effort we’ve been putting in to extending our reach, we’re delighted to be recognised as best of type – going up against not only yachting guides, but travel guides across many different markets,” said publisher and co-author, Grenville Fordham.