It seemed to me that all of these books were meant to be coffee-table books with lots of upclose shots of yarn. Yes, yarn is pretty. So very very pretty. MMMM, yarn. Glorious, glorious yarn. However, honestly, show the entire garment if you want to interest me in trying to knit it.
I also saw lots and lots of basic sweaters but done in very expensive yarn. *siiigh* Yeah, just what beginning knitters want -- a sweater that's going to cost them $200 to knit.
I did see a really cool book on knitting gifts for men, Never Knit Your Man a Sweater -- a book that totally plays into the whole "Boyfriend Sweater Curse" but also has some really nice patterns. It starts off simple, "Here, knit him an iPod cover" and then a scarf and on and on, all the way to showing you how to knit a gansey sweater (when the engagement is announced of course). I thought it was a cute and nifty concept and it was totally tongue-in-cheek too.
I think, tho, that I'll stick to knitting magazines and online sources like Knitty for my knitting resources.