This huge 896-page tome is a great resource for planning an extensive trip to and through Spain, for long-term visitors to the country, or for expatriates who live in Spain and want a detailed tourism reference that covers all parts of the country.
While Lonely Planet Country Guides have really set a standard in travel literature, I don't think this book is for everyone because it contains a ton of information that most casual travelers will never need or use. Those planning a short trip to catch the sights in Madrid, Barcelona with a couple days in Andalusia or Costa Brava will probably be better off with a less detailed book. Lonely Planet has the Discover Spain guide, which features shorter length, more pictures and illustrations, and more of a laser focus on top tourist sites. I am convinced Lonely Planet's "Discover" series is actually a response to the successful "Eyewitness" series by DK -- like their Spain guide.
But if you need depth and breadth, the Country Guide is the way to go. I have been using Lonely Planet since 1989, when I first bought the Japan Country Guide. Before getting this book, the most recent Country Guide I had seen was the 2008 edition of "Mexico". Even compared to just a few years ago, this latest-generation guide has important updates that make it more relevant and give it a welcome feel of modernity.
The first major change from earlier guides is the inclusion of a lot of "top" lists. The book starts out with the "Top 28 Experiences" in Spain. Each city- or region-focused chapter starts off with boxes titled "Why Go?", "Best Places to Eat" and "Best Places to Stay" on the first page. And there are countless smaller boxes within individual chapters, such as various "Top Five Beaches" lists or "Top Picks for Kids".
The other major, and welcome, change is full color printing throughout the book. The maps now bear a familiar resemblance to those on Google, color typefaces are used to highlight headings and keywords, and a few key tourist sites (like the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the Seville Cathedral, and the Mezquita and Alhambra in Andalusia) are presented in 3-D color computer renderings that map out the sights. (I'm convinced this is another response by Lonely Planet to the features in DK's Eyewitness guides.)
If you need depth, have real or borderline OCD when it comes to vacation planning, or just plain love reading detailed travel books, this guide is for you and gets five stars.
If you'll be spending a week or two in Spain for business or pleasure and you just want to have a good time, do yourself a favor and get something lighter. You may not be happy with the weight and extreme detail found here.