Yup, a new, all-encompassing Blender Book including a Reference manual is probably a thing of the past. It’ll take so long to compile that Blender will be several versions further than whatever the book is based on. A series of about 5-7 small books about the size of the old Tutorial Guides would probably be easier to handle both from a production standpoint (ie they don’t need all to appear at once as from a shelf-life perspective. (ie a major upgrade to one part of Blender will not impact the content of the other books). Support problems surrounding the books would probably be hard (how many to print of each book? At what point do we get a new version of a book? How to split up Blender in different books?..)
Now, me personaly, I would be interested in for instance
Blender basic modeling (Blender intro, poly, metaball, Nurbs, SubSurf, Sculpt,…)
Blender Animation (Keyframing, IPOs, armature, cyclic animation, camera flythru’s etc)
Blender Character modelling and animation.
Blender Materials and lightning with Blender Internal.
Blender Physical effects (Softbody, Rigid body, Fluids, Particles,…)
Blender and external renderers (Yafray and whatever else is feasible. Indigo? PovRay? Sunflow? Kerkythea? Renderman? Mental Ray?)
But then of course you’d get:
What about Gameblender? Python scripting? Blender for making movies (compositing, sound, codecs, NLE,…), Coding for Blender etc, etc
One would probably end up with either too many booklets or with the original problem (books covering so much that a lot is obsolete before long)
The easiest way to deal with these problems would possibly be to distribute only SoftCopy (PDF on CD or so) but this opens a whole different can of worms with copyright violation, DRM etc.
Ah well, I guess I’ll just have to look and see what comes about (Bugman_2000’s book should be interesting.) Who knows, maybe other proffesional technical writers will be enticed to do a book on Blender or one of its subdomains …