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    Re: NOAA Gives the 'Heave-Ho' to Paper Maps
    From: Carl Herzog
    Date: 2013 Oct 24, 06:42 -0700

    There seems to be some confusion regarding the implications of this announcement.

    By no means is this the end of paper charts. Official, updated NOAA charts will continue to be printed and sold. It's just that the actual printing and distribution is being done by private publishers rather than the federal government itself. This is part of a long trend by the government to get out of the costly printing business.

    Since about 2000, NOAA and NGA (ex-NIMA, ex-DMA)have been aggressively culling the list of marine navigation products that they sell in printed form. Instead, they provide pdf files to private publishers who then print and sell the material.

    If you have purchased Tide Tables, Current Tables, Sight Reduction Tables, Universal Plotting Sheets, Maneuvering Boards, Coast Pilots, Sailing Directions or Navigation Rules in the last few years, odds are good they were printed and distributed by a private publisher. You'd never know the difference, unless you look closely at the publication data in the front matter of the book, or in the corner of UPS sheets and maneuvering boards.

    Similarly, private publication of official charts has been going on for several years in the print-on-demand format. Up-to-date electronic files of paper charts are provided by NOAA to private publishers who can then print out single copies as needed for sale. This announcement is merely the final step in the full transition to that business model.

    Print-on-demand charts have tended to cost a little more than NOAA-printed charts, and early in the process the paper quality was not always as good. Paper issues have since been largely resolved in my experience, and the added cost is frequently outweighed by the benefit of getting a new chart already updated to a more recent NtM. (Note that this is not completely live updating, so if you buy a PoD chart, it may include more recent NtM changes than the NOAA-printed chart, but is likely still not completely up-to-date.)


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