On Medical Book Publishers

Ed Uthman, MD

Diplomate, American Board of Pathology

26 Jul 1995

Is it just that I'm a nascent curmudgeon, or has anyone else just about had it up to his/her Montgomery's glands with medical book publishers? The prices have gone up hugely out of proportion to inflation, and the durn things are obsolete in four years, and substantively out of date even at the time of publication. Despite their limited lifespan, they are printed on the finest stock and have more and more process color in every succeeding edition. And of course, we all buy them up like there's no tomorrow, ogling over all the color, even though it rarely adds much to the diagnostic usefulness of the image beyond what is available from grayscale illustrations.

I probably enjoy taking pot shots at the government as much as any red-blooded American citizen, but it seems to me that the only publisher who has held costs down and still provides a quality product is the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology with its venerable Atlas of Tumor Pathology series. Heck, if the government did as good a job on everything as it does on the beloved Fascicles, I'd be the first in line to sign up for the Socialist Workers' Party.