Rick Steves is one of the most popular series of guides to travel. We were in Rome for 4 days this summer, and used the book as a quick reference guide. The organization of the book is much like the other guides. It is about 4.5 by 6 inches, 230 pages or so. The first pages of introduction gives a synopsis of the major tourist areas: Vatican City, North Rome, Pantheon, Trastevere, Ancient Rome, Pilgrim's Rome, South Rome, and Termini. The Daily Reminder gives a succinct overview of special hours for attractions on different days of the week. On Sundays, for instance, the Vatican Museums are closed. Many sights are closed on Mondays, including the Capitolini Museum, the Borghese Gallery, Ostia Antica, etc. The guide also lists major sights with its rating of importance: those with three triangles, likes the Colosseum, the Forum, the Vatican, and the Borghese Galleries, are rated three triangles for "Don't Miss."
The back of the book includes a detailed map of Rome with Metro stops. Romans rely less on the underground than on above-ground trams and buses. One of the huge short-comings of the guidebook is the lack of a bus map and schedule. The buses generally come every 15-25 minutes. It can be annoyingly hot in August to be waiting in full sun for the buses. The Roman bus stops have a detailed listing of the stops for each line, but it is impossible to figure out which buses to take unless you ask someone. Fortunately the Romans are such generous and friendly people that they generally help poor tourists out. The map of Rome is not very useful for walking. The smaller streets are not shown. The Trastevere area is not shown in entirety. There are free maps distributed in hotel lobbies that are superior to the one in the book.
The remainder of the book contains several walking tours of major sites: Colosseum, Forum, Pantheon, Night Walk across Rome, Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Basilica, the Borghese Gallery. In general, the tours hit the highlights of each sight, but few details are given. We traveled with children and were prepared for Museum Fatigue ("You promised, TWO churches only today," said my son). Therefore, for the best sights, we actually had private tour guides through a tour company. It was invaluable to our enjoyment.
Note: this is a brief and populist guide. It is good for an overview, but not for any kind of detailed historical or academic treatise of the major sights. For this kind of information, I recommend doing research before your trip on the internet, as each major sight has a website. As well, the Blue Guides will bring more life to the tours. The tour companies are expensive, but allowed us to bypass long, hot lines for the major attractions. Our tour guide was an archeologist who happened to be a great speaker. The children were vastly entertained, and she was familiar with all the SHADY spots on the tour.
We did not use this book for restaurant recommendations or hotels. We used a Tripadvisor city app: take the recommendations with a grain of salt, as they are not always unbiased.
So, why a guide book and not a smartphone app? Smart phone apps (maps, Tripadvisor, etc.) have an advantage in that your GPS location is available, and the distance to various sights can be accurately estimated. However, smartphones are difficult to see in the sun, and the information you want is not always easily searchable. It would be cool, for example, to wear Google Glass and have it link to Wikipedia. Great, but it's way cheaper to buy a $10 book.