This book was recommended to me by someone I met online quite some time ago, and I have yet to be disappointed. At a very basic level, the photography is excellent and even though it is a paperback, it seems to be pretty hardy.
"The Irresistible Bead" is a great book for all levels. I have been beading for more than a year and took art classes in high school, so I skipped the information on color and the other basics. However, these sections are great for reference (or, if you've never picked up a bead before or don't consider yourself artistic, read through them and they'll help a lot).
The instructions for the various projects are well-illustrated and easy to follow. If you don't have one of the items needed for the project, you can usually substitute something else from your bead stash, and you probably already have a lot of the non-bead supplies around your house (tape, straight pins, toilet paper tubes, etc.).
For the advanced beader, there are a lot of new kinds of projects to try. There's a section on polymer clay, and a stitch or two you may not have tried before.
For the really creative person, just flipping through the book and looking at the photographs can spark lots of ideas. You can adapt the projects in the book, or you can work up versions of the beautiful pieces of jewelry that are shown just for inspiration (as opposed to being projects included in the book).
One thing that might have been nice is to see what some of the pieces of jewelry looked like on models but most of the bead books I've seen don't do that anyway, so it's just wishful thinking on my part.
All-in-all, I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in beadwork.