I think this book is brilliant, yet I am not 100% sure why it is in the Very Short Introduction series. It isn't really an introduction to contemporary art. If you don't know much about art, and you don't know much about contemporary artists, you aren't going to be very much the wiser after reading this book, at least at a basic level. It deals only sketchily with the work of artists, using them to illustrate points rather than to tell you much about them or the artists themselves. It doesn't really set out to tell you what art is either, in any easily identifiable way.
Having said that, it gets five stars in my book because it illustrates a fascinating view of art that I have never really been aware of before. Stallabras talks about contemporary art in relation to world politics, commerce, consumerism and the worlds of big business and finance. He talks about how art has changed and been shaped by the demands that these external pressure points have put upon it, and what that means for the way we 'read' art and art works. He talks about how it affects our understanding of where art fits in the current world order and what that means for artists.
It is an incredibly interesting book, from which I have learned a great deal. It really made me think and made me look at things like how exhibitions are staged and what museums are for in a radically different light. It is well worth the money and the time to read it, but you do have to have some prior knowledge of art beforehand to get the best out of it.