lassroom in a Book grabs you by the ear and leads you around, teaching the features of Ai by making you re-create the drawings on the enclosed CD. Make sure you get the right book--the lessons in CS3 Classroom in a Book won't work in CS4. If you like being told what to do, this would be a suitable way to learn Ai. The problem with this book is, after you're done, you can't use it as a manual.
ith 483 8½ × 11 pages, this book, available only from Adobe, is the ultimate manual for Illustrator. Everything you might ever need to know about Ai is here, direct from the horse's mouth--for example, how to input Asian characters (strongly biased toward Japanese), how to create a color gradient, and how to flatten for printing. The only drawbacks are a lack of color illustrations and a dry writing style.
ow to Do Everything is more like an actual computer manual than Classroom in a Book and is more readable than Using Adobe Illustrator CS4. It concisely covers the features in Ai and it's well written. Unfortunately, it's full of mistakes, especially in the section on colors. In some places, it tells you to use the wrong Options Panel; in other places it neglects to tell you where a particular feature is located. The section on color gradients is totally wrong--I had to go to the Internet to find out the solution. But at only 310 pages, it's a quick way to get started with Ai.