For small businesses that need to learn more about electronic data interchange (EDI), there's an excellent guide published by the EDI World Institute. The Why EDI Guide for Small and Medium-Sized Entrepreneurs answers questions about this paperless way to exchange sales orders, product specs, invoices, and electronic mail with customers. And it answers them clearly and carefully, without technobabble.

The 108-page book includes 12 thorough case studies of small companies (ranging in size from $3 million to $36 million) that have implemented EDI, covering their reasons for adopting the system and the costs, structure, problems, and payoffs. There is also a detailed questionnaire to help you determine whether your company should pursue EDI, as well as a work sheet that highlights expected expenses and benefits.

Available from the EDI World Institute in Montreal (514-288-3555, fax 514-288-4199, E-mail ediwi@ediwi.ca), the 1995 guide costs $29.95 plus $5 shipping to the United States. Whether your largest supplier has mandated the change or you're just beginning to consider forms of on-line communication with your vendors and customers, this book is an objective primer on an often confusing topic.

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