Magento 1.4 Themes Designwas written by Richard Carter and published by Packt Publishing. It was published in January of this year (2011). I read the eBook copy, so I have not yet been able to look at the paper copy, but if it is like every other book published by Packt, there’s not much to complain about.
This book is geared towards beginners looking to get their hands dirty with theming Magento, and understanding how it works. If you are only used to theming applications like WordPress or ZenCart, you will find Magento very difficult. Magento doesn’t just use template files. Magento is much more like a framework, and should be considered as such. They have implemented a powerful system of blocks, layout xml, and template files. The concept can be difficult to wrap your head around, and that’s where this book can really help you get started.
You’ll find the book very well organized, and the author does an amazing job explaining concepts without rambling on forever. There are many occasions where a link to a article (mostly wiki articles on Magento’s site) that better explains the concept in detail, which is nice as it doesn’t clog up the book, and allows you to choose to explore the concept further or not.