Kicking the Tires: The Fine Art of CD-ROM Product Evaluation
King, Alan, Online
How many of us buy a new car without first taking it for a thorough test drive? How many of us buy a new television set without consulting Consumer Reports to find the most highly rated model? The answer to both these questions is - very few. As a nation, we pride ourselves on being educated and informed consumers. We scrutinize advertisements, comparison shop, and solicit the advice of a variety of publications and experts. Yet in the marketplace for library products, these very same skills often atrophy or disappear.
Buying CD-ROMs is certainly no exception. Since I began to write this column for ONLINE, I have been collecting my colleagues' comments on various CD-ROM products. Among the most common complaints is a general disillusionment with a product's performance: "It doesn't really do what I thought it was going to do when I bought it." This comment, rather than being an indictment of the product is actually the sign of a poorly-made purchasing decision. What is it about the library market that can cause rational (more or less) individuals to bypass common sense and buy without adequately reviewing a product? Part of the problem may be our unfamiliarity with the product we want to purchase. Very few of us would consider our-selves to be computer or CDROM experts. The jargon alone is enough to send a sane person over the edge. However, we often find our-selves in the position of not only making a decision about which CD-ROM database to purchase, but also choosing the hardware on which that product will run.
Compounding this problem is, the fact that the tools we have come to rely on in the general consumer market do not adequately exist for library products. Despite the variety of excellent CDROM reviews available in our professional press, there is no Consumer Reports for …
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Publication information: Article title: Kicking the Tires: The Fine Art of CD-ROM Product Evaluation. Contributors: King, Alan - Author. Magazine title: Online. Volume: 15. Issue: 3 Publication date: May 1991. Page number: 102+. © 2009 Information Today, Inc. COPYRIGHT 1991 Gale Group.
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