I much prefer this book to David Pogue's "Missing Manuals"; "Learn" has a better selection and arrangements of figures for illustrating user interface actions. Overall, "Learn" is a more efficient vehicle, without being unpleasantly terse, for coming up to speed on Snow Leopard. Do not be put off by its low price in alternative buying choices; those are simply great deals.
"Learn" includes a useful introduction to Apple's Xcode developer tools, which are available on any Mac's OS X install DVD. ("Missing" dedicates less than 1 of 885 pages to XCode.)
If it described an easy way to reconcile Mac's Aqua layout to those of other operating systems' window managers which more usefully attach applications' menu bars to their windows, rather than the desktop, this would be a truly great book. (That menu-moving trick may be impossible; neither "Learn" nor "Missing" has an index entry for themes.)
As this is the first time that I try to review a book I find it appropriate to to tell you about my basis for accepting this invitation:
a) In Denmark, I've worked for many years as a documentalist, my main job being to find and write abstracts of technical and scientific papers of interest to the research department of the company I was working for.
b) When Denmark joined what's now called the European Union (or EU for short) I went to Brussels and worked for 23 years as a translator of technical and scientific texts for the European Commission.
So, although I haven't actually tried to review any books until now I do think that I'm qualified to form an opinion of the two books in question - and that's what I'm going to give you !
Having been in the Windows camp all my professional life, but with several 'Apple fanatics' among my colleagues I decided that instead of purchasing yet another PC, this time I'd opt for an iMac with a 27 inch screen and a 1 TB hard disk, on which I intended to install Windows7 in addition to SnowLeopard - in order to obtain the advantages of both worlds - possible with Intel-based Macs, and Bootcamp now part of Mac OSX!
Although ordered the same day, one of the books arrived a week before the other one, giving me enough time to form an opinion of the first one and a basis for comparing the two when the second one arrived. - And rarely has the difference between what I expected and what I got been so great: A great disappointment in the first case - and a very pleasant surprise when the second book arrived!
I have Windows XP Professional installed on my 6 year old PC, and Mark Minasi's "Mastering Windows XP Professional, Second Edition" has been 'my bible' during those last six years. So, when "Windows 7 The Black Book" by Sean Odom was called "The most Comprehensive Windows 7 Guide Available!" I quite naturally expected to receive a book of the same kind and on the same level as books published by Sybex. But what I got - although recommended by three readers on Amazon(!) - was not much more than a collection of screen.shots, often so poorly printed that I find them hard to read - even when using a magnifying-glass!
In addition to that, the book has less than 300 pages, the last 35 being taken up by a glossary and more than 63 of the remaining pages only 'half full' of text, 12 pages 3/4 empty and page 201 totally blank for no obvious reason. - Add to this that most of the 20 pages called "Fun Stuff" are taken up by screen shots of well known games like Backgammon, Checkers, Chess, Minesweeper, FreeCell, Solitaire etc., and I think that you begin to understand my disappointment with this book. For about a year, now, I had been reading all articles in PcPro about what to expect from Windows7 - and I imagined that this book would be at least on the same level as my Windows XP 'bible'. What a disappointment!!!
When ordering the other book - Learn Mac OS X Snow Leopard (Learn Series) the parentesis had braced me for a book on level with the "... for Dummies" books in the Windows world; but not having had any hands-on experience in the Apple world myself I accepted to start on a rather low level and then by a 'better' book later on when I had learnt the basics. - What a pleasant surprise then to receive a book with the sub-title "Thinking Person's Complete Guide to Mac OSX". And complete is is: nearly 700 pages filled with very well.written, clear and instructive information on all aspects of the latest version of OSX . I haven't found any 'fluff' at all in this book and although it starts out on a level that only supposes that the reader has a basic acquaintance with computers in general but no specific knowledge of Mac OSX , it goes all the way up to a thorough description of "Darwin", scripting and development tools - the first half of the book laying the basics and the second half being on what I'd call a semi-professional level.
Summa summarum: Using the evaluation system in PcPro for value for money I'd say that paying USD 30- for the Windows book merits 1 on 5 as a great maximum while the book on SnowLeopard at only USD 23.75 merits 5 on 5!!!
Probably my fault but I expected something a bit "thinner" with just some quick hits for new (non-professional) Snow Leopard users. Bought it for my wife, as she has always been a Windows person. More my fault for not looking at the number of pages and the depth of the book.
But if you have the time to read 200+ pages regarding Snow Leopard, this is the book for you.