Reviews of Recent Writings - Find It Online!: Fast Facts & Answers from around the Globe by Robert I. Berkman

Article excerpt

Berkman, Robert I. Find It Online!: Fast Facts & Answers from Around the Globe. Summit, PA: Windcrest McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1994. 380 pp.

Find It Online is a complement to Mr. Berkman's 1984 book, Find It Fast. The new book focuses on electronic information in online and CD-ROM formats. Purists might wish that the title made this coverage of remote dial-up access and local access to CD-ROM data more evident, but newcomers to electronic information will find the broad use of "online" understandable.

The bulk--almost 50 percent--of the 380 pages are devoted to the sections discussing CompuServe and a catalog of consumer databases. Briefer sections explore the type of information available on GEnie, America Online, Prodigy and the Internet. The coverage of the Internet occupies 15 pages. This contrasts sharply with 97 pages devoted to CompuServe and 83 pages of database listings by information category. A more balanced discussion of the other online services might be a goal for the publisher if the book goes into a second edition.

Mr. Berkman has made a significant effort to capture the look and feel of each major online service by including readable screen shots. The thumbnail sketches of major databases available on each service are far more useful than the online service's own promotional literature, which touts free time and the latest marketing person's idea of a useful new service.

The most useful sections of the book are the listings of major databases by category. Mr. Berkman eschews gobbledygook and jargon, preferring more easily understood categories of databases like Agriculture and Animals. The effort to be clear and to demystify access to electronic information is commendable.

The book includes several appendices. The first one I turned to promised a snapshot of online pricing. The information was useful, but it did not probe a subject that requires more exhaustive treatment. …