I was looking for something that would serve as a good introduction to the array of Google applications, and this book is well-suited to that task.
What you'll get:
* A good introduction to 12 or 13 of the newer Google applications. Ledford spends a little more time on the applications that are likely to be more popular (mail, docs, spreadsheets) and a little less time on some of the others (Picassa, chat, etc.). Overall, I thought the focus was just about right.
* Ledford explains the basics of each application. He offers some tips and tricks to using each application. He breaks the discussion up around different features, where appropriate (e.g., Google mail vs. the calendaring function within GMail). Along the way, readers will learn why a particular app might be more or less useful to them than competing applications (e.g., Google spreadsheets vs. Microsoft Excel). Ledford points out the most significant advantages AND drawbacks of each Google App, which is quite helpful.
* For my purposes, I was interested in evaluating the whole Google suite of applications so that I could consider whether to move my organization away from Microsoft's Office suite and toward online applications. This book is a great first-effort in helping assemble that sort of information. Undoubtedly, much more will be written about Google's suite of applications. As one of the first (if not the first) to undertake this endeavor, however, Ledford does a commendable job.
What you won't get:
* Extensive details on any one application. For example, if you want to become a GMail power user, then this book is not for you. Consider this a very basic introduction to the variety of Google applications. For an in-depth discussion, you would need to look elsewhere.
* A substitute for playing around with each application itself. It is one thing to read about Google's application suite; it is another to use and practice on the apps themselves. In my opinion, there is no substitute of knowledge gained through trying to use each of these applications. I read this manual while on a vacation in Spain, where I had no internet access. I likely would have found it more useful if I could have used some of the tips and recommendations in real time. That said, Ledford's book still serves its purpose as a good introductory guide.
Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who wants to know more about Google Apps but was afraid to ask, and to anyone who is considering whether to attempt a life without Microsoft Office. There are other alternatives to Office, but Google's Apps probably are the most prominent of them, and Ledford's book serves as a useful introduction to them.