Based on some perspectives he gained at this year's PHP Appalachia event and at a Triangle-PHP meeting (talking with David Rasch, Ben Ramsey shares his thoughts on how to teach PHP, more specifically to those with some programming background, but not necessarily a lot of experience.
He (David) suggested that the format for teaching PHP needs to change and that these books need to start not by teaching PHP from the Web but by introducing newbies to PHP concepts by creating command-line applications. The idea being to introduce them early on to OOP and best practices, rather than trying to get them started fast with a simple "Hello, World" Web site.
For Ben, the idea was agreeable, but he wasn't sure on whether or not such an approach would take off with the current book market. He does agree with David, though, that things need to change.
As far as David, his thoughts can be best summed up with this post on his blog, talking about a way to learn PHP without some of the drudge they pass along with the lessons in some of the "Learn PHP Now!" kinds of books. He even includes a table of contents for such a book.
So, which is the better of the two? Well, book publishers still think the second (the give examples and teach practices too) is the proven formula for a good PHP book, but maybe a company out there could benefit from Ben and David's suggestion of a no-nonsense, clean, easy book that fosters an approach supporting the basics, not someone's opinion of good code.