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There is a new book out that may best be described as the Yellow Pages of software. It is "The Software Encyclopedia 1989: A Comprehensive Guide to Software Packages for Business, Professional or Personal Use," published by R.R. Bowker.

The last part of the subtitle is a bit deceptive. At $179.95, it would seem to be a hefty price for personal or home use. And it is hardly something to read while lounging on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon. Its two volumes contain 2,105 pages, listing 20,000 software packages for the microcomputer.Listings are given by title and publisher in one volume and system compatibility and application in the other.

But if you have a serious need for an all-inclusive list of software and what it does or if you purchase software on a more than casual basis, this work may be for you.

Since much of the time you know the name of the software that interests you, the title section provides a description of the software and its retail price.

The publishers section lists addresses and phone numbers of the publishers.

The section I found most helpful is the System Compatibility and Applications, which spells out on which of the 14 major operating systems the software works. The section is grouped into application listings according to the operating systems.

The IBM PC family and MS-DOS compatibles head the list of operating systems, which also include all of the Apple II family; the Macintosh; Atari 8-bit and ST; Commodore 8-bit and Amiga; CP/M and MP/M environments; and the UNIX and UNIX-like environments. The Radio Shack TRS-80 and Texas Instrument home computers also are represented.

Both volumes give a description of the software.

Those looking for bargains may find one since shareware as well as commercial software is listed.

Some of the 38 major applications groups listed are:

Accounting, banking, database management, desktop publishing, games and entertainment, graphics, hobbies, integrated software, legal, marketing and sales, medical, personal computing, personal finance and budgeting, programming tools, real estate, spreadsheets, telecommunications and word processing.

The book contains no reviews. What it does have are system requirements for each package and short but very descriptive explanations of the purpose of each software package.

All of the better known biggies like Wordperfect and Lotus 1-2-3 are listed, of course.

One of the more esoteric programs listed is Residential Cooling & Heating Loads Program: RHVAC. This $395 program by Saleem Chaudhary, published by Elite Software Development Inc., is for IBM and compatibles. It calculates heating and cooling loads on buildings with as many as 100 zones and 100 air systems.

Another is Momars by Allied Support. This $3,495 program for the Apple Macintosh family is a Medical Office Managements & Accounts Receivable System.

While I said this is not for sofa reading, it is useful and an excellent tool for frequent purchasers of software.

The 1989 edition, the fourth, has added 4,000 new titles since the previous edition.