James C. Eisenach, M.D., Editor
Mosby's Anesthesia: Electronic Library CD-ROM. St. Louis, Mosby-Year Book, Inc., 1995. Price:$350.00.
Mosby's anesthesia CD-ROM is a compilation of several complete electronic versions of four major anesthesia textbooks. These texts are Principles and Practice of Anesthesiology, 1993 edition by Mark Rogers, John Tinker, Benjamin Covino, and David Longnecker; Anesthesia and Perioperative Complications, 1992 edition, by Jonathan Benumof and Lawrence Saidman; Anesthesia Equipment-Principles and Practice, 1993 edition by Jan Ehrenwerth and James Eisenkraft; and Practical Management of Pain, 1992 edition, by P. Prithvi Raj. Also included on the CD is the 1994 Yearbook of Anesthesia and Pain Management by Tinker JH, Abram SE, Chestnut DH. The texts themselves have been reviewed elsewhere and in this reviewer's opinion are, by themselves, worthy additions to the library of any practitioner. The CD provides software for both Macintosh-(Apple Computer, Cupertino, CA) and Microsoft Windows (3.1 and 95; Redmond, WA)- based computers. The current review will therefore focus exclusively on the features of these electronic versions.
The five books exist as completely independent entities, without a common index. To read or search the texts, a program known as Folio Views (version 3.1; Provo, UT) is provided. Folio Views completely defined the reader's experience with this CD and many other electronic textbooks that were published in the past several years. This program treats all the elements that comprise a textbook (e.g., text, references, figures and captions) as items in a database. As a database system, Folio Views has a competent, flexible query system. Individual words and their synonyms may be located in the text. Individual words may also be combined with logical operators such as AND, NOT, OR, and exclusive OR (XOR). Folio Views also allows the user to annotate the text with bookmarks, simulated highlighter pens, or “Post-It” style notes (3M, Minneapolis, MN). If the textbook databases are read from the CD, however, these customizing details are disabled.
The Folio Views software provided on the CD displays a number of menu choices, such as altering the text font and size, but all of these options are disabled. The reader is presented with a single, resizable column of text that includes hypertext links from reference citations in the text to the bibliography. Unlike several other electronic libraries (e.g., Miller's Anesthesia), the actual abstracts for cited papers are not included on this CD. Tables and Figure legendsare included in the main text; however, the actual figures are not. Figure positionsare marked by graphic icons, which must be double clicked with the mouse pointer to display the Figure ina new window. Some would suggest that including figures and, indeed, professionally formatting the layout of the text is unnecessary. But this reviewer would note that much has been learned about optimizing the presentation of information on the printed page, and this information could easily be adapted to modern high-quality computer displays. By now, software similar to Folio Views should provide the ability to replicate the printed page, or even to adapt the form of the printed page to the size and resolution of the computer display.
In summary, Mosby's Anesthesia provides a convenient collection of anesthesia texts. Although the $350.00 list price for this CD seems high, it is actually quite reasonable compared with the retail prices for the separate texts, which totals $645.00 exclusive of the Year Books. The next edition should enhance the ease of use and power of the reader software.
Ira Rampil, M.D.
Department of Anesthesiology; University of California; San Francisco, California 94143;email@example.com
(Accepted for publication October 3, 1998.)