You wouldn't criticize an orange for not being a good apple. In terms of taste, texture and many other attributes an orange isn't supposed to be a good apple. So why in the world would you criticize Harrison's or Cecil's for not being good “look up” treatment references like UpToDate is? They're not supposed to be. They are mainly background references, not point-of-care references. So they have a different role.
An interesting exchange of tweets between Ves, the author of Clinical Cases and Images and Joel, who blogs at Precious Bodily Fluids seems to ignore this point:
@DrVes: UpToDate is likely the most read medical reference tool, at least in the U.S. - how did Harrison's, Cecil's, etc. manage to lose that war?
Thus a false dichotomy is set up between UpToDate and the traditional textbooks. It's both-and, not either-or. The resources should not be in competition. They are complementary. When I'm rounding and need a quick look up of the latest and best information on the treatment of interstitial lung disease complicating systemic sclerosis I go to UpToDate. At home that night I might want to review some background information on the pulmonary complications of systemic sclerosis---pathophysiology, radiographic patterns, disease characteristics, natural history and the like. For that, my best bet is Harrison's or Cecil's.
Don't get me wrong, I love UpToDate. It may even save lives. But UpToDate by itself is not enough. You need additional resources. If your Harrison's is serving primarily as a booster seat for one of your kids at the dinner table you could put it to better use. What do you think? (I'm opening up comments again in hopes the spammers will stay away).
Related post: How and why should we read?