The Official vs. The Unofficial Users Guide
If you've arrived at this page you're probably trying to decide whether you should purchase the Official Magento Users Guide or my Unofficial guide. This page offers some key differences to help you make an informed comparison between the two guides.
Right off the top the official guide is only 212 pages in length when you subtract the table of contents and the index. My book is over 400 pages and it is now being updated for the new Magento 22.214.171.124 version. I would encourage anyone contemplating which book to purchase to compare the table of contents for each book. You can also check my Release Information page for up-to-date information on my latest release.
When you purchase the official guide you get what you get. When you purchase my book you get updates at no charge as they are released. The official guide is what it is and is not being updated, at least not for free.
The official guide states "This guide is intended for web storeowners and first-time users of Magento. It provides a quick guide through the most important steps for getting your web store up and running and ready for selling online." In short, the official guide is nothing more than a beginners guide and a piece of marketing material to sell you Varien's professional services. My guide is intended to provide a complete and comprehensive guide to all of the Magento features. It is meant to be more than an introduction, it is meant to be a valuable reference manual users can turn to again and again.
My book is organized in an entirely different manner than the official guide. For example, I put the chapter on customizing the site's design immediately following the installation chapter, assuming that, like me, this is what most users will want to do after getting the software installed. The official guide puts their chapter on design and content as number 7. Their chapter on design is much shorter than mine and refers readers to the online design guide on the Magento site.
In my book I cover everything you need to do to configure your store to do business online before you setup your catalog of products. The official guide does it the other way around, setting up the catalog before getting the store ready to do business.
My book covers every payment module that comes with the basic Magento package. Their book only covers PayPal, Saved Credit Cards, and Checks and Money Orders.
My book covers all of the shipping modules that comes with Magento, including what you need to do to establish accounts with shipping providers. Their book only covers the basics of shipping and setting up the Flat Rate module.
In addition to this, there are several features that the Official guide doesn't even mention. For example, They don't tell you how to use the Import/Export feature. They don't tell you how to backup or restore your database. They don't mention Google Base or Google Website Optimizer. They don't show you how to add and configure additional administrative users. My book does all of this and much much more.
Over all, I believe that you will find that Grow with Magento is the better value for your money.
Practicle eCommerce reviewed the Official Magento Users Guide shortly after it was released. I would encourage everyone to read the comments that follow the review. You can find it here: Practical eCommerce Review