Besides the ubiquitous Rand-McNally Road Atlas, some other specialty maps and atlases:
* The Business Control Atlas of the U.S.--For the Serious Businessperson. Designed specifically for use by business: locating dealers, wholesalers, etc. (128 pp., $11.95 softcover).
* The Chesapeake Bay in Maryland--For "Save the Bay" supporters and other area seadogs, by the Natural Resources Institute of Maryland. Depicts the Bay according to distribution of water critters like copepods, clams and blue crabs. Also charts (water areas are "charted" not "mapped") of the Bay's depths, tides, currents, salinity and sediments (55 pp., $5.95 softcover).
* Earthwatch by Charles Sheffield--An atlas for those who want "a unique outsider's view." Surveys the world from outer space--70 full-color satellite images shot from Landsat, 570 miles above the earth's surface. Text also explains what these pictures reveal to geographers, geologists, agronomists and hydrologists (160 pp., $24.95 hardcover).
* Hammond's Nature Atlas of America--For the person who packs his binoculars before his toothbrush. Divides the country by categories like "Trees," and "Reptiles and Amphibians," then maps the range and distribution of particular species. A two-page spread, for example, shows winter distribution of the bald eagle (255 pp., $8.95 hardcover).
* The New York Times World Atlas--For the discriminating cartographer. The maps, highly accurate and technical in detail, are drawn by the Bartholomew family of Edinburgh, Scotland, who, until a few years ago, still set down the place names in hand script (235 pp., $60 hardcover).
* The Rand-McNally Historical Atlas--Popular with armchair historians. What was the sway of the Roman Empire at its height? Map 12, page 30, for the answer (191 pp., $29.95 hardcover; abbreviated softcover, 40 pp., $3.95).
* The Rand-McNally Picture Atlas of the World--For sixth-graders learning to like geography or for parents who want them to. Besides the maps, there are bright pictures of camels splayed at rest on the floor of the Sahara, as well as a good introductory section on how maps are made and who decided where to put the boundary lines anyway (96 pp., $7.95 hardcover).
* The State of the World Atlas by Michael Kidron and Ronald Segal--A handy reference for left-leaning polemicists. Colors and compares the countries of the world by criteria like "Exploitation" (on a scale of 1-5), "Military Arms Spending," and "Holds on the Mind" (religions and languages used by a "ruling class." (Simon and Schuster, 300 pp., $9.95 softcover).
* A Tactile and Large Print Atlas of Greater Washington, D.C.--For the non-sighted, issued by the Washington Ear, a non-profit organization. Contains maps of general areas like Georgetown, Capitol Hill, the Mall, with gross features of each area raised up from the page. Traffic circles, for example, feel like circles; the Ellipse like an ellipse; the Pentagon like a pentagon (34 pp. $12 softcover).
Map readers of even more specialized or idiosyncratic tastes can be served at the Library of Congress, where the Geography and Map Division has 3 1/2 million maps and 40,000 atlases from all corners of the globe and all periods of time. (Available 8:30 a.m.-5p.m. Mon.-Fri., and 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday in Room B-01 of the Madison Building of the Library.)
Most of the listed atlases are available at The Map Store, 1636 I St. NW, among other places.