The WordPress 2.7 Cookbook could be summed up as: get things done with WordPress using as much off-the-shelf stuff as possible. What you won't learn here is how to create a theme from scratch, nor how to write your own plug-in or what to write about once your blog is ready to go; for that, Packt and others have published whole books. Readers looking for ideas on to write about might want to pick-up Michael A. Banks' Blogging Heroes or, less so, The Huffington Post's blogging guidebook.
What you will find here is answers on how to do specific things using existing plug-ins, themes and modifying themes them when necessary. The Cookbook can be broken down into three sections: the first four chapters provide an overview of WordPress and serves as a guide to the themes and plug-ins readers might find useful for their own blog. Chapters five through seven are the most technical and deal with modifying WordPress' "Post Loop" (used to display posts) as well as a chapter on ways to secure a blog. The final section, from chapter eight on, cover SEO, monetization and general information on how to build your readership, again, using plug-ins and some design tips.
Is this a book for beginners? It's not really for absolute beginners, because having some PHP knowledge is a pre-requisite; WordPress uses functions in templates, possibly as a way to hide some implementation details (WordPress still runs on PHP 4 with its very basic object model), so some of the ways things are done might be confusing to new coders. While the book's format is similar to the O'Rielly Cookbook format but it's stripped of a lot of explanation about why something is done a certain way; it's more of a, "This is what you want to do, this is how you do it" format. A reader should be fairly comfortable with PHP and maybe read-up on the WordPress' site's nline documentation to get some more background on how WordPress works internally than is offered here.
There's a great saying – that I probably read on a WordPress-powered blog – that you should try not to re-invent the wheel- unless you want to learn about wheels. This book is for people looking to build a blog that meets their needs, not more wheels. While it might have been useful to have some more background on how the WordPress software works, in theses days when most users of the software will have regular Internet access – else your blogging career is pretty much finished – these resources are always available on the main site, so it is understandable that they where left out.