This Step-by-Step guide sets itself a pretty daunting task - to reduce something with the complexity of Microsoft Access 2007 and provide a practical, hands-on and informative introduction for a beginner. Under the circumstances it gets most of this right, with a few frustrations along the way. In 10 well-sized chapters Joan Lambert covers most of the basics that an Access novice will need to be able to get a good understanding of this product, doing so with plenty of examples that are always pretty clear. To put that into context, I've used it as a primer for Access 2013 and managed just fine, largely due to the clarity of examples given. However, there are a few issues, chief of these being related to the otherwise excellent examples.
The tutorials embedded in this book are of the "go-here-and-click-this" variety. If you do decide to work your way through the book, you will find yourself lapsing into a robotic execution of these steps, unable to appreciate what is happening because of the complete lack of useful descriptions as to why a particular click is useful, or what the options are. This is a hard challenge to make of the book, because, of course, it's intended as an introduction to the beginner, but even with the material presented, there is a complete and utter lack of *why* being explained. The author will tell you that Access has a feature, then guide you through a point-and-click demonstration that you can follow, but in almost every case fails to provide the context to help you adapt or extend what is provided.
If you're familiar with databases and just need a primer for Access 2007, this should not be a hardship, but there is the risk that someone looking for a good introduction will come away wishing for more.
1. Nice style, well written, with logically sequenced chapters and good selection of content
2. Functional examples [I found just one error]
3. A few useful tips and insights to some of the less obvious aspects of Access
1. Very poor explanatory notes covering the examples, to the point that you may be inclined to try each experiment multiple times, exploring different options for yourself, hoping for the best...
2. For a beginner's guide, a couple of missing items for me would include, for example, the value of "backing up" data. Yes, this is beyond the scope of "Access basics", but as a beginner's guide this should hopefully think about getting the basics right, and that was missing.
3. Pointers to extensions - it would have been nice, in places where additional options and capavbilities existed, to have pointed them out rather than simply ignoring them completely... For example, in a section concerning queries, the author mentions that it is possible with Access to write them directly using the Access version of SQL - Structured Query Language. This is one of the very few examples of the author pointing out extensions for the reader to research should they want to.
Sum-up: a very competent "basics" book, that could have earned 4 Stars if it had come with better and more descriptive explanations of the examples, and 5 Stars if it had put a little more effort into pointing out "further reading" areas to help the reader be aware that Access does in fact have far more capability than even a book as thorough as this could hope to cover. ~300 pages of good, solid introduction.