Book Review -The Diving Almanac & Yearbook 2007
Contributed by Tim Hochgrebe
Looking up the definition of almanac I found one that probably wraps up this book in one sentence: A publication, usually an annual, containing useful facts and statistical information ...
This book put together by Jeffrey Gallant and published by Porbeagle Press in Canada aims to establish itself as an annual publication in the dive industry.
With its 556 pages it compresses a lot of diving information in one book. It covers diving medicine - including fist aid, diving history, diving records, industry statistics from each country of the world and events of the year. It lists oceanography institutes from around the world, diving websites (how could it omit underwater.com.au ...) and even ventures into military, police and professional diving.
While I think it is a great effort to put together a book like this and I am sure everybody that is into diving would find something interesting in there I dare to say that it only touches the very surface of each subject it contains. Unsurprising really as otherwise it would be a 12-volume encyclopedia of diving.
The thing I stumbled over was looking through the statistics of active divers and naturally looked at Australia first and found we have 34,600 active divers (source for this was ausport.gov.au 2000) out of 20.2 million which is something like 0.17% - this number is said to include active and non-active divers. The figure for USA was 16,184,240 (source Leisure Trends Group 1998), which assuming a population of 300 million is over 5% - and this number was stated to include only active divers. So ... are they saying that Americans are about 30 times more likely to be active divers than Australians (and that including non-active divers here) ... well I don't think so.
Following my German heritage I checked that number next - as I know Germans are keen divers (despite the fact that there is almost no diveable waters in Germany) - and found Germany was not even listed but they found 250 divers in Djibouti. A quick search on the net showed me the number quoted by the German Diving Association (VDST) in 2001 was 1,6 million out of 82 million which is close to 2%. I would say that number was missing.
Anyway that was just a quick example of what I believe is trying to pack too much into one book and then getting it wrong. Especially if it is a yearly publication and some data used is close to 10 years old.
Despite the shortcomings I do however think it is a valuable publication, especially for people in the dive industry as a lot of contacts are included and I have found a number of organisations in there I didn't even know existed. So if you want to boost your general knowledge of diving in one quick hit and don't mind reading a lot of compressed facts and tables, it is a good book to have and there is nothing else even close to it on the market - of course all that info is on the internet but it is not compiled in one spot.
Would I buy one ? Well I have one now, but I possibly would have bought it to find out what it was about.
How much is it ? It's U$ 20 - but to get it to Australia or anywhere else but USA or Canada it is U$34 (inc shipping and handling)
We are considering stocking the book in the underwater bookshop and would appreciate expressions of interest (we would bring shipping costs down by about A$10).