Getting started in telecommunications can be expensive, as each minute spent fumbling around online represents dollars out of one’s pocket. ONLINE, which includes non-threatening guided tours of seven online databases, should prove invaluable to anyone seriously considering signing up for any of the services included.

Following a brief introductory chapter on telecommunications, the author discusses hardware and software components necessary for microcomputer communications, focusing specifically on a recommended basic IBM PC telecommunications setup. Then, through practice calls to Tymnet and Telenet, he introduces the reader to the ins and outs of accessing online services.

The balance of the book consists of hands-on tours of online databases. Tours are presented in order of increasing user difficulty and cover types of services offered, comparative costs, logging on, getting online help, using the service and logging off. Also described are opportunities for advanced training in using complex databases such as DIALOG and types of expanded services available from some vendors.

The author is frank in explaining extra costs (such as minimum monthly fees on CompuServe EIS and NewsNet) associated with taking advantage of the free offers. Although several of the most popular services, including The Source, BRS, and Delphi, are only mentioned briefly, this book provides an excellent step-by-step guide to those services which it does cover.