The MLP FiM Official Guidebook is a recent release at bookstores from Little and Brown, the publisher for various MLP licensed books. Most have been aimed at the younger crowd, while The Official Guidebook is aimed towards fans of the Hub show of all ages.
Brandon T. Snider has quite a few books under his belt, mostly fan/guide books for established IPs such as tv or comic book characters. The book also has a forward by Lauren Faust (show creator), an introduction by Meghan McCarthy (story editor) and Jayson Thiessen (supervising director) with snippets sprinkled throughout by various show staff. Along with the thoughts and observations of the people behind the show, there’s prelimanary sketches and designs by Faust and other artists, including some interesting designs of Princess Luna/Nightmare Moon. A decent chunk of this background information was already known from various show staff Twitter feeds and Faust’s deviantART account, but not everyone (especially younger fans) is aware of this information.
The book, just a little over 250 pages, looks like Twilight’s Elements of Harmony book from s1e1 and is packaged in a partial slipcover to keep the hardbound design as pure as possible. The end papers have quotes from various characters and the first few pages are a reproduction of the intro sequence from the first episode.
The first four chapters focus on the various characters seen in the show, with some basic info and names of each. It’s great seeing Steven Magnet openly acknowledged. There’s also info on the setting, the Elements of Harmony, basic info and friendship lessons of each episode and all the song lyrics. There’s also a short chaptor on the FiM fandom at large, both from the smallest child to the oldest adult.
My opinion: If you’ve been following what the staff has been saying about the show or read the various wikis, forums and message boards, there’s little in here that will surprise you. Much like any sort of guidebook, if you’re a superfan only the never-before released art will be news to you, and you’ll probably buy this just for the sketches anyways. If you know a younger fan of the show or have a friend who doesn’t follow the online pony community heavily, they’ll love getting this book as this will mostly be things they’ve never seen before.
It’s interesting hearing from “the little guys” of the show in the book, as the fandom tends to cling to the VAs and Faust most often; I didn’t even see any quotes from VAs. De Lancie and Faust are important for the show, but they’re no longer involved. Faust doesn’t even watch the show anymore, so her observations on the show can sometimes be obsolete or rehashes of what she’s already said. It takes a lot to make this show, especially when it was still pre-season 1 and all the puppets and backgrounds needed to be made. The hand-drawn concepts for the princesses’ old castle, Canterlot and Ponyville are extremely impressive due to the sheer amount of detail involved.
The book is pretty cheap for the page count and can always make a good prop for a Twilight cosplay, and you could easily sell it/give it to someone else in case you’re not fond of it.
The book has a suggested retail price of $17 USD/$19 Canadian. It’s currently $10 on Amazon and in their warehouse, so it’ll ship out quickly (or for free if you buy $15+ of stuff if you’re okay with waiting a few extra days).