I received information about CALCO Publishing Co., in Connecticut. The information says you can earn extra income by reading books at home. All you have to do is contact certain publishers, read what they send you and tell them what you think of it.

"Publishers, movie producers and book clubs receive tens of thousands of manuscripts every year," says the information. "They desperately need people to screen all this material before they spend time and money pursuing it. It can cost thousands, even millions, to publish a book or produce a movie. This is why they need you and others as a screening process. The $50 or $100 they pay you is nothing compared to what they could lose if a book or movie is a failure."The promotional material encourages you to buy, for $29.95 plus $1.59 for shipping and handling, a book called "Get Paid For Reading Books."

The book is written by Barbara Hensen (now Smith), a former reader for Book-of-the-Month club and film producer David Susskind.

Testimonials quoted in the promotional materials include:

"Now when I read books at home, I'm making good money doing it - and it averages out to $40 per hour." - B.B., Clearwater, Fla.

"As as paid reader of books, I can work at home, set my own hours, read as much or little as I choose, and still have time for my children." - P.H., Moorestown, N.J.

The book comes with a money-back guarantee. If you have not earned at least $1,000 with the program within 90 days, you may return the guide for a "full and prompt" refund.

I'd sure be interested to hear what you find out. - B.K., Salt Lake City.

Sounds like the perfect job. The problem is it isn't as simple as it seems.

The promotional material you sent us from CALCO makes it sound like anyone can become a reader. No skills, no degrees necessary. That, in fact, is not true.

Examples: Book-of-the-Month hires in-house, on-staff, salaried readers. Their qualifications are high. One is a former Asian history professor at Dartmouth; another is the author of biographies of two 19th-century American writers; the editor-in-chief served on the Pulitzer board and was president of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

It seems the competition is stiff.

Here's what several New York publishers had to say about hiring freelance readers.

Simon & Schuster:"This is something we don't do."

Book-of-the-Month: "We do not operate like this. Tell your readers to please not send resumes. We don't have the staff to deal with them."

Random House: "Personnel gets tons of letters everyday from people who say they love books and would like to be a reader. We send them a letter saying we don't hire freelancers."

We spoke to a woman at the company in Connecticut that ships books for CALCO. She said "Get Paid For Reading Books" is 64 pages and contains resource information - where you can find names and addresses of book publishers, movie producers, etc. The book also has a sample cover letter. It does not list names and addresses of publishers, movie producers, etc., that hire freelance readers. You have to look those up yourself.

One person we spoke to at CALCO's parent company in Westport, Ct., said "It requires a lot of library research."

If we were serious about becoming a reader and we felt we had the qualifications, we'd start by contacting local publishers because it may be easier to get a foot in the door there than at regional or national publishing houses. Even at that, the field is extremely competitive and probably few, if any, hire freelancers.