Many business founders are shocked when they suddenly find themselves in charge of MIS, having to decide which computers, office machines, and telephones they should buy. The world of telecommunications can prove a minefield for the uninitiated, and learning a bit about it can make the difference between finding good, inexpensive service and being burdened with overpriced, useless features.

Fortunately, the small-office/home-office market is hot. And people are writing how-to books geared toward the soloist. June Langhoff's Telecom Made Easy (Aegis Publishing Group, 401-849-4200, $19.95), for example, deserves praise for its thorough coverage of telephones for home and small businesses. Now in its third edition, it includes chapters on modems, cellular phones, voice mail, phone systems, and phone bills. It defines terminology and offers checklists aimed at helping users decide which products and services are right for them. Especially helpful for do-it-yourselfers, the book provides tips on troubleshooting and repairs. Just leafing through it will get you started, preparing you for smarter dealings with salespeople or the telephone company.