I read Amazon.com reviews and thumbed through various CS4 InDesign guides at local retailers for a week before deciding to purchase this book. I couldn't be happier with my choice to buy the One-on-One guide. This book and accompanying disc present 3 specific benefits for me:
1. Method. With each chapter, step one is to watch a video (each is approximately 10 minutes). The video shows an actual project being manipulated (in high resolution, so you can see all the icons clearly) and "sets the hook," so to speak, with regard to what the reader will learn in that chapter. With so many tools and options, it's nice to be able to see and say, "Oh - THAT'S why it's worth learning." Next is to work, step by step, through the provided sample exercises. This was much easier for me than books where the techniques are listed, and then there's an instruction like, "now, try this on the supplied examples." If you do something wrong, your document doesn't look like the full-color illustration in the book, and you know exactly where you went wrong. Last is a little vocab quiz to ensure you got the key concepts and terms. I find the approach to be ideal; the work is going quickly and I'm retaining a lot.
2. Detail level. I'm going to need to use InDesign in my work extensively. Which is not to say that I'm going to be expected to lead seminars on it; I need to know how to command it in day-to-day operations, and know enough about the program to consult other sources for the really fine details that I might not know offhand. This book nails that usage range. I don't expect to know every keyboard shortcut and every way to manipulate every character (and am appreciative that the author's scope takes that into account). But upon its completion, I'll know how to do virtually everything I'll need to do - and will know enough about the various menus and functions that I'll be able to get real results when I look up a more detailed operation online or in a bible-type guide.
3. Tone. Others have complained that Deke needs an opiate:) While I'm amused at the comment, I respectfully disagree. Sure, he's a tad sales-y, but he's interesting. No approach could appeal to the entire audience to whom this book is marketed - but I find that I'm not bored, it's easy to pay attention to the text in the book as well as the accompanying videos, and I get the vibe that Deke actually, PERSONALLY knows what he's talking about and wants you to see what he does and WHY he does it the way he does. It's easy to see that he has real world expertise; he's not just reading the same book you are and "presenting" the highlights. Brief, occasional notes about how the CS4 compares and relates to previous versions, other Adobe products, and competing products like Quark and PageMaker underscore this as well. The included sample documents run the gamut from cheese and humor to modern and professional. Bottom line - yeah, Deke is selling his product - but he's also trying to maintain the attention of students he's never met, and impart serious knowledge about a complex program. I'd take him over 80% of my college professors any day of the week, and am learning a ton with his approach.
One other ancillary benefit is that Deke imbues other non-Adobe lessons too. I've written copy for years on a freelance basis, but have always handed off my stuff in Word format. As a guy who's going to be writing proposals 9 to 5 every day, and who is going to be responsible for getting them into InDesign and printed respectably, I appreciated the little bits of editing know-how as well. I haven't incorporated all of them yet (as evidenced by my double spaces between sentences here...that's going to take some time), but there's some very practical advice here also to be gleaned from a guy who makes his living publishing books with this particular program.
I love this product, and I'd give it six stars if I could. Buy it and you won't be disappointed.