Browsing the virtual bookshelf

Tired of accessing on-line publishers that tease with titillating titles but provide only a portion of a publication's text?

Then point your browser to www.nap.edu for immediate access to more than 1 000 full-text health science and technology publications housed at the new Web site of the National Academy Press. NAP part of the National Academy of Sciences plans to place more than 4 000 additional volumes on-line within the next year.

This inviting site offers advanced reading materials suitable for professionals and a general audience such as how to prevent children from starting to smoke and advice on protecting the environment.

For those with a particular topic in mind try visiting the Reading Room first to pull one or more books off the virtual bookshelf. Books are all available in three formats: Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) DocuWeb or Adobe Acrobat. The Reading Room houses all on-line books from NAS and its affiliate institutions: the National Academy of Engineering the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council. Many of these books are based on studies requested by Congress or from government agencies.

Specialty books are available on a wide variety of topics including biology chemistry computer sciences Earth sciences energy studies engineering international policies public policies and science and ethics.

A recent journey into the computer sciences category provided several titles for the technology-minded: "The Changing Nature of Telecommunications/Information Infrastructure " "Commercial Multimedia Technologies for Twenty-First Century Army Battlefields" and "Computer Chips and Paper Clips: Technology and Women's Employment." General-interest books are available too such as "Eat for Life " which details how people can modify their diets to help prevent disease.

After choosing a title users can skim through the virtual hardback or paperback by clicking on the preface executive summary table of contents or a particular chapter. Each chapter is summarized in detail allowing amateur researchers and professionals to quickly eliminate superfluous information.

Users who want the entire book's contents may either download it or click over to the bookstore to buy it. NAP has provided a virtual shopping basket that tallies purchases and the ordering section uses encryption security.

For bookstore browsers the Fresh Paint room offers virtual shelves packed with hot books "still warm from the printing press" and books published years ago that are still grabbing headlines. The room also provides recent book reviews and on-line releases.

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