Not so much a book as an 'at-a-glance' pamphlet. Does a adequate job of introducing you to D3, but not more so than the existing examples on the d3js.org.
I wanted to work with the live data, but the author does little more than provide 'data cleaner' Python scripts to produce JSON from the live sources that he selected - the New York transit system. Python scripts that required modules outside of Python's standard library. Really? At least he provided canned data, but D3's strength is working with living data, and that's not really explored here.
The book also feels sloppily written, with many niggling errors. For example, the skeleton html provided references to the 'd3.js' file, but since February this file has been supplanted by 'd3.v2.js'. Was there really no time to correct this fundamental error before the book came out in late July? D3 makes extensive use of 'cascading' functions, but no real effort was put in to explain or show, with diagrams, how they work in D3. Considering that this is probably the greatest hurdle for newbies to get over, the lack of serious treatment is appalling.
The examples are good - I can't really fault them, and the subtle repetition does drive home the core D3 process. But it doesn't feel like enough. The author's refuses to even explain the basics of anything other than throwing a graph up. For certain, this book is supposed to be about D3, not data munging or manipulation - but considering how important SVG is to D3 and its use, I was surprised to see a mere half-page given to the image format. Amusingly, the author notes "We've no space to go into SVG in detail here..." No space? The book is 58 pages long. It could use some more padding with useful information.
The book goes through example after example, but doesn't offer the merits or demerits of a particular graph or approach. Why use a force-directed graph to represent the New York subway system, for example? For show? The resulting graph is ugly, the nodes and edges unlabelled. An example showing how to make a simple directed graph, properly labelled and aligned, would have been far more useful.
Want a list of all available graphs available for D3? An overview of the library API? An example of how to use D3 with XML or CSV data? You're out of luck. What I really wanted was a nice, detailed exploration of the library and how it can be used, step-by-step, to craft amazing graphs like the "Wealth of Nations" visualization (see the D3 website) , but instead I got regurgitated snippets. It's like I have Chapter 1 of a 7-chapter book.
I think this book is really mistitled, and that's why I feel so poorly about it. If it had been named "D3 at a glance" and cost 10$, I would have received it more positively. But I expect more - a lot more - from a 'Getting Started' title.
I feel particularly cheated because I purchased this at the same time I purchased another O'Reilly "Getting Started" book - "Getting Started with Dwarf Fortress", which contains over 200 pages of densely packed information, including detailed step-by-step instructions and good appendices. The kicker? It also cost 20$.