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INFORMATION, S'IL VOUS PLAIT

Multimedia marches on. In late September, French publishing giant Matra-Hachette will bring out a new concept in encyclopedias called Axis. Comprising 18 paper volumes, a series of videotapes, a CD-ROM, and an on-line information service, all four types of media are cross-referenced so that researchers can use them together.

Targeting students from junior high school through university, the encyclopedia includes about 112,000 articles. When users want to learn more about a subject, the PC-compatible CD-ROM lets them search associations between different subjects, such as the relationships between Baroque music, literature, and architecture. And monthly updates on current events, available over France's on-line Minitel videotext system, refer to background material found in the other media. Matra-Hachette editorial director Jean-Pierre Croset says the fast-growing but still-small base of only 20,000 CD-ROM drives in France was insufficient to support development of a disk alone. But by charging a mere $70 for the CD-ROM, on top of $1,000 for the rest of the package, he adds: "We hope to incite a lot of parents to buy drives."EDITED BY EVAN I. SCHWARTZ


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