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New IBM CD-ROM Was Born in Paris
Herbert R. Lottman -- 10/27/97
For an advance look at the new IBM/World Book Discoveries encyclopedia, come to Paris, where prime publishers Larousse and Gallimard have already released the French version of five CD-ROMs, calling it the world's first multimedia 3-D historical encyclopedia also available on DVD, with online updating and access to monthly Web site supplements. Producer and coordinator of the project is Havas Interactive, the new name of Liris Interactive, the multimedia arm of Havas Publications Editions (itself the new name of CEP, formerly Groupe de la Cité), France's number-one trade and reference group. Havas Interactive also takes over the existing resources and activities of Havas Editions Electronique and its affiliate Arborescence. For its part, the Gallimard team is headed by Pierre Marchand, founder of Gallimard Jeunesse and creator of the Discovery trade paperback series (published in the U.S. by Harry N. Abrams).
IBM will publish its version next spring, with Spanish and Japanese versions due from major groups in these countries, while a German version was released by Bertelsmann last month. The basic source for Discoveries is the 20-volume Gallimard-Larousse family encyclopedia, itself an international bestseller with editions in 17 languages and 35 countries. "To be credible," explained Havas Interactive CEO Agnès Touraine, "an electronic encyclopedia must have the kind of database that only a traditional encyclopedia publisher can offer."

The new work takes full advantage of up-to-date games technology, with a product that is patently user-friendly in its journey "from the Big Bang to the 21st century," with separate tracks that can be accessed by chronology, geography and theme. A September press screening in Paris managed to include photographs taken on the surface of Mars by Pathfinder as recently as July 21.
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