I am both impressed and overwhelmed by the amount of pertinent and useful information in this book. Every topic, chapter, and section is important--no filler, no repetition, nothing necessary left out, nothing unnecessary thrown in.
How my opinion dovetails with yours depends on the commonality of our experience and our intended purposes for getting this book. I am, primarily, a photographer both for business and pleasure. I am very competent in the use of Photoshop, and just got Painter as a Christmas gift (two weeks ago). I wish to start turning some photos into illustrations (line drawings, soft images, collages) but for my own use and pleasure, not for commercial purposes or public display. After seeing the book, I might (later) be seriously tempted to go beyond that, but there are so many options, so many styles, so many directions I would want to take that I'm overwhelmed by the choices.
However, while the book is not intended for beginners, a beginner who is familiar with at least one of the programs isn't going to find it difficult to wade right in and tackle a project. It's just a question of finding a simple one that applies to the type of photography you have in your collection.
I have to add that having a certain amount of artistic eye, skill, and background would be a big help because these projects cannot be approached in a purely mechanical way, regardless of how well you use Photoshop, Painter, or the additional programs, plug-ins, filter and action packs mentioned. The book merely provides the techniques, methodology, and inspiration.
Every step is amazingly well explained and illustrated. (Although it isn't done in the usual tutorial style so common for software users: numbered steps, captioned screen shots, the "recipe" laid out in sequence.) There are some more structured sections but, by and large, this is a purely narrative style in long blocks of paragraphs, as if you were learning with the teacher seated next to you and explaining as you go. This requires reading the entire section before you start, wrapping your head around the general theory, adding post-it tabs and highlighting the parts you need to pay attention to, and starting your project. I think that, for this type of photographic project, it's actually the ideal teaching method to use because it explains what you absolutely need to know, then lets you implement the idea your way.
I see absolutely no negatives in this book. It is clearly and intelligently written and well edited and organized. The content is fascinating, from the detailed and informative artist interviews to the full spectrum of styles and options offered to create art and collage based on photographs. I would have enjoyed reading it and learning from it just for the pleasure of it.