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There is a series of books on GIMP.

What are the differences among them? Can you help to pinpoint a good reference ?

Ideally I hope that after reading such a book I would be more or less (depending on the task) able to use all the other main software (Photoshop? Lightroom?), that is I am not looking for a step-by-step guide "click here, open this menu, apply the automatic setting et voilà" with screenshots of the menus but rather for something more enlightening like "to achieve this effect you can reason in terms of layers, so try applying this kind of transformation and then..."

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Did you try searching Amazon for these books? There may be useful reviews and opinions there to answer your questions. –  ysap Jul 16 '11 at 19:25
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I am doing that in the meanwhile, but I value the quality of answers of Photo.SE and I thought that the question deserved to be asked on the site so that it can help other people, too :) –  Francesco Jul 16 '11 at 19:31
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Have you tried the tutorials here: gimp.org/tutorials I am surprised someone actually wants learn how to use this software. Personally I think it's one of the most confusing and unfriendly software packages. Maybe the Linux folks write all programs like this but the GUI of this thing is confusing as hell... –  Jakub Jul 17 '11 at 0:13
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@Jakub: I would not be so harsh in the judgement, but the need for a learning guide comes in part from my inexperience with the subject and in part from the complexity of the package in itself... –  Francesco Jul 17 '11 at 4:27
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@Francesco. I admit I am not a fan. Tried several times and each time was a frustration. Reviews seem to indicate the program is a good bang for the buck but also point out the rather steep learning curve due to the GUI design/ layout. Personally in this class i'd rather pay the $50 and get Corel Paintshop. –  Jakub Jul 17 '11 at 16:50
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You can expect all of them to be step-by-step guides to mostly learn GIMP. There are two that do stand out due to their specialization. The Artist's Guide to GIMP Effects and GIMP 2 for Photographers: Image Editing with Open Source Software seems to be more of focused books for photographer(age of publication can e issue as GIMP evolved over 5 years). Anything else is out of date or it is start up manual

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GIMP is a powerful, free software. Elements is too expensive compared to 0 (the one justification to shell out money for it may be if you actually are going to make money from it, and the learning curve will be faster for the payed software). Can you recommend a specific other software to try? –  ysap Jul 17 '11 at 8:26
    
@ysap Elements too expensive? £53.33 from amazon (amazon.co.uk/Adobe-Photoshop-Elements-PC-Mac/dp/B0042D81NO/…). Are you sure you didn't mean Photoshop that is £649.99 (amazon.co.uk/Adobe-CS5-Photoshop-Extended-PC/dp/B003DZ0DYC/…) –  peter_budo Jul 17 '11 at 10:10
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@peter thanks for your answer. It's not a matter of price (After all we're talking about photography and lenses aren't exactly cheap). It's a matter of trying out what's out there and not stopping at the "obvious" answers...And I appreciate being able to read the source. –  Francesco Jul 17 '11 at 11:50
    
Peter - note what I wrote: expensive compared to 0. Personally, I'd rather buy another piece of glass/flash/accessory than pay for software for which there are free equivalents - but YMMV. –  ysap Jul 17 '11 at 12:00
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I have voted down as this really doesn't answer the question posed. The OP wasn't asking to be told why he shouldn't use GIMP, or any other tools are better...he asked how different books on GIMP compare to each other, and whether the information in them is general enough to improve his photo-editing (rather than tool-specific editing commands). Try to keep your answers unbiased, and simply answer the question at hand rather than try to change opinions. –  jrista Jul 17 '11 at 17:47
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