"HTML and XHTML" is my first exposure to the "New Perspectives" series, but I'm sure it won't be my last. I had a few years of web design experience, but I wanted to get into the programming side a little bit more, so I ended up taking a class and this was the textbook. I was pretty upset that I was being forced to buy an expensive book on a common subject like HTML where one can find a multitude of volumes for under $40. However, by the end of the class, I came to really appreciate the approach that this book takes.
First of all, if you are looking for a reference book, this is not it. This is a step-by-step book that teaches one basic concept per chapter with each idea being applied directly to the accompanying tutorial files downloadable from the publisher's website.
That said, if you're looking for something akin to an HTML classroom experience, this book allows you to teach yourself pretty effectively. I had the added benefit of an instructor to help me debug, but I could imagine working through the book successfully on my own without issue. The directions are very clear and aimed at the beginner. I've seen a lot of books that skip certain steps considered too basic to mention, but this book makes no assumptions.
Again, this is not a book for anyone already familiar with HTML, nor is it recommended as a reference or a refresher. You can spend much less money to get a good refresher book that doesn't cover so many basics in such detail. However, if you want a book that will hold your hand through the learning process, this is it.
I realize that most of the people buying this book will have no choice - it will be a required textbook for introductory web programming classes. I'm mostly just sharing my experience here. The book is expensive, but it IS worth it. I'm not sure if I'll hang on to mine forever, but it gave me a very solid knowledge of HTML fundamentals.