Sailors like to read nautical books, so when a free app of this name is noticed, there's a moment of excitement. Read on to see why this app essentially wants to take your money for what you can get free.
Version reviewed: 1.0 for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad - free
No Android version
What It Does
This "free" app basically just wants to sell you books. It is nothing more than a simple alphabetic listing of book titles (authors and other data not identifiable until you ask for a sample of each) that you can download for $2.99 each. It's not even searchable.
But there's an issue here: apparently all the books are already in the public domain and available free in epub and other digital versions (see below for how to get). This includes the "top in-app purchase" (per iTunes page) of Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast and hundreds more, like Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Every one of the books I checked in the "Nautical Books" listing was available online already from Project Gutenberg - for free. Simply go to their website and search the catalog, or search there for "sea" to find lists of almost 500 nautical books (including almost all, if not all, in the app). You can also browse the sea books by subject (such as "seafaring life - fiction," or "sea songs," or other subjects. When you find something of interest, click it to see many available formats, often including audio versions. Then download it directly on your device or to your computer and transfer it.
I found evidence that the "Nautical Books" app developer may have simply downloaded the free Project Gutenberg digital versions (under a Creative Commons license) and is selling the exact same thing. I myself find this rather sleazy.
BTN, the app developer, describes the app in a way that suggests they simply programmed the app to redistribute online content to an unsuspecting public, rather than, say, having any real feel for or appreciation of nautical literature: "The readers will get more knowledge about Mother Sea and wild sea animals which need be protected from oil spills human has caused. Especially, these nautical books also supply much knowledge and experiments about cruising, chartering, sailing, sailboats."
BTN apparently has a whole series of different book "collections" on different topics they sell themselves. And apparently people do buy them as in-app purchases - maybe for the convenience. Doing it once for $2.99 isn't a tragedy, but you could spend a few minutes online to get a dozen or more of the same, and the savings will add up quick!
Since these are older, public-domain titles, you won't really see many contemporary books or information about sailing. For this, take a look instead at the Boater's Pocket Reference app or the History of Sailing app.