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Rook's Textbook of Dermatology: CD-ROM

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Rook/Wilkinson/Ebling's Textbook of Dermatology
Edited by R.H. Champion, J.L. Burton & F.J.G. Ebling.
Blackwell Scientific Publications
ISBN 0-86542-234-6 (Electronic fifth edition)
Cost: $295 personal/institutional


Most dermatologists are familiar with the definitive British reference Rook/Wilkinson/Ebling's Textbook of Dermatology. This tome which comprises four hardcover volumes costing $550 in book form is now available on CD-ROM. If you don't already own the hardcover version of the fifth, most recent edition of this text, the CD-ROM version priced at only $295 represents excellent value for the money. The CD-ROM contains the complete text and 1,767 illustrations, with over 1,400 in full color. Furthermore, having the text on one convenient CD- ROM, eliminates the frustration and tedium of having to handle four heavy volumes: Murphy's law seems to dictate that the topic one is looking for in Rook is never in the first volume one pulls off the bookshelf!
The single compact disc is available for Windows (3.0 or later) only, and currently there is no Macintosh version available. Installation and start-up are straightforward. The navigation is quite intuitive, although there is a slim jewel case insert and an on-line "Help" button feature to refer to if required. Unlike Habif's Clinical Dermatology CD-ROM (reviewed in Dermatology On-Line Journal, Vol 3, No. 1, and see Table below) which contains several unique ways to extract information, the index and search functions on this disc are relatively standard. The CD-ROM content is indexed by Volume, Chapter and Article headings, corresponding to the printed text. There are several ways to search for the information: The first is a "Word List" which alphabetically displays all the words in the text. Double clicking on any word will find all the articles in the text that contain that word and then sequentially display them at your request. Alternatively there are "Word/Phrase Find" and "Advanced Search" functions where you can do searches of the contents using standard And/Or/Not search parameters.

Cost*Number of
Habifyesyes$179 3000yes

FormularyAdditional Features
Compared to print version
Habifyesyesyes yesyes

Table: Comparison of the various features of Habif Clinical Dermatology with Rook Textbook of Dermatology. *(Price quoted for Habif Clinical Dermatology is the personal price. The institutional price is $699. The price quoted for Rook Textbook of Dermatology is both for personal and institutional purchases.)
Figure 1: The Table of Contents.
A "Print" function allows you to send any part of the text to your printer. There is also a "Notepad" which allows you to type in your own notes while you are viewing an article. Another nice feature is the ability to customize the screen to some extent. It is possible to change certain aspects of the screen display such as the text font and point size to accommodate personal preferences.
Figure 2: Tuberculoid leprosy.
Like most electronic textbooks the images on this CD-ROM are shown as 'thumbnail' sketches which can then be enlarged to full size by double clicking. Generally the quality of the digitized clinical photographs, as well as the Figures and Tables, was high. On enlarging the 'thumbnail' image the caption to the image also appears.
Figure 3: Lines of Blaschko.
In summary, this CD-ROM is simply an electronic version of the well-respected hard cover text. Rapid indexing, the ability to perform searches and the low cost compared to the print version make it good value. However, if you already own the fifth edition in the hard cover version, I would save your money for the electronic version until the sixth edition is released.
by Claire L. Haycox, M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Medicine (Dermatology)
University of Washington
images © 1996 Mosby - Year Book, Inc.
text © 1997 Dermatology Online Journal