If they're charging more than 10$ for a particular language book and going to fill up half of the space with gibberish text that covers (loops, variables and manipulators) and that too with less code, then i have to say that it's time waster
For an introductory
book on a language, teaching the basics is warranted. If you already have some language knowledge, you're likely better off going for an intermediate level book instead, unless it's a paradigm you haven't worked with before (if I were to tackle LISP, I'd go for a beginner's book
and IMO - 'band-aid approach' programming is way better than this gibberish text approach.
Page up and page down of dead code listings doesn't help anybody (see "Virtual Machine Design and Implementation in C/C++" for an example of a pretty crappy book that has plenty of code). Sure, you do need some amount of code snippets to get the feel for a language, and you need an introduction to the major API areas.
But instead of dozens of code snippet and trying to cover every API, it's far more important to teach the idioms of the language, how the parts go effectivey
together. The reasoning behind using one approach over another. For that to work, you need both code and text... and this the kind of stuff Sutter and Meyers are pretty darn good at doing.
Correct me if i'm wrong here, i think learning only one language with dedication (that too any one of your choice) and then moving onto second language on your own without using these books gives much sane feeling to mind. Web tutorials and stackoverflow keeps you in much comfortable position for second language than these books.
Dedication is definitely important, and so is keeping up with StackOverflow, blogs, and other resources. But IMHO you don't properly
learn a second language effectively&efficiently just from those resources - you'll be writing your-first-language idions in the new-language-syntax.
You need (good!) books or lot of practical experience (doing real-life projects with people who are good at the language) to properly
learn a new language. Some people might argue that you can just take a look at some existing open-source projects, but those are usually badly documented and commented... and even if those are well-done, you'd really want "annotated sources" which people just don't do.
But of course I'm speaking from the mindset of wanting to learn a new language well, not just being able to pick it up over a weekend in order to take a job offer and deliver sloppy hackjobs
I've got a copy of Sam's Teach Yourself C++ in 24 hours, it came with the copy of Borland's C++ v4.52 that I got from the Staples discount bin for $10. Now while Sam - for the most part - was completely full of shit (on the 24 hour part). The book has come in handy from time to time when I was having a thick moment and needed a really (really...) simple explanation using (very) short words...
IMHO no beginner should touch the "Teach yourself whatever in N timeunits" books. They might be appropriate for experienced developers who need to get a quick overview of some language and some ideas of topics to investigate further... but probably these days online resources would be better. At least the teach-yourself-X-in-Y books I've seen have been bloody horrible
FWIW, the kind of books I find valuable is stuff like Scott Meyers' "Effective C++", Herb Sutters "Exceptional C++". To some degree Bill Wagner's "Effective C#", and definitely Jon Skeet's "C# In Depth". Those aren't beginner books, they're about using languages... welll... effectively.
But I digress.