The book (or CD-ROM) is divided into 3 parts (books). The first one deals with how the book was done and how it should be used. It's wise to read this one before you dive in to book two and three…
Book two is core of the CD-ROM and contains information about 270 separate works by King. It's covered everything he has done (that is known). It is here that you can find all the info about each story. You'll find stuff like where you can find the story (if you can find it), a summary of the story (this one is extra interesting when it comes to the unpublished stories), main characters, links to other stories, errors, adaptations, places, things and much, much more.
In book three you will find a set of indices. This is the one you should use when you want to find a special character or a special place or anything else in any of the stories or if you want to know if he/she appears in several stories.
The total number of pages ends up at the respected amount of 5100!!! My guess is that that's the reason this book is released as a CD-ROM and not as a hardback. If it ever where to be released as a hardback it would have to be divided in three different volumes (at least) and it would still be to big and (probably) to expensive.
So, is this something that you need to have? Well, if you ask me I would definitely say YES! Or let me put it like this: How often have you read a story by King and wondered where that special thing has appeared before, or where you have read about that character earlier? Now you don't have to wonder (or look through all your books to find out) any more. As a reference work The Complete Guide to the Works of Stephen King is perfect. It's not something that you read from cover to cover though. It's more of a dictionary over King's work.
Isn't there anything wrong with The Complete Guide to the Works of Stephen King then? Well, yes, there is. First it can be a bit time consuming and complicated to have to turn on your computer to look up a character, specially if you in bed reading. But then again, this is probably the only way you can publish a book like this so this I can live with.
Another thing that maybe should have been done differently is that layout of book 2. Here all the stories are divided into 3 different columns and in alphabetical order. This sounds like a good idea but it's a bit messy and it gets a bit hard to get a good overview of it all. Maybe this design should have been done differently. But then this isn't all that important. It does what it's supposed to and that is good enough for me.
So you see, not even he bad things are really that bad…
Another thing is that I can't help getting jealous of the authors of The Complete Guide to the Works of Stephen King. I want to read all the stories as well!