Like other reviewers, I bought this book after watching "Julie and Julia". I listened to other reviewers and paid more to buy the hardback version. I cannot comment on the paperback version or compare the two, but I am very pleased with the content, explanations, descriptions and diagrams in the hardcover book.
When the book arrived I picked it up to flick through it (as you do when a new book arrives), but I became engrossed reading the book and ended up sepnding 5 hours reading it! And in that time (and since that time too) I have learnt so much about food and cooking. This book is an excellent book and can teach you a lot about cooking - especially the basics of cooking.
The only slightly negative feature of this book is that a lot of the recipes and techniques require you to flick between pages and recipes, which can become slightly confusing while you are trying to follow a recipe. To overcome this you should read the recipe(s) and techniques throughly in advance of cooking the dish. That said though, I have still become confused and ended up cooking it 'my way' despite reading the recipe(s) before cooking them.
I really like this book and I am pleased that I have bought it - it has become my little kitchen bible!