The Steampunk Bible has received a lot of critical praise. I can understand why; it certainly is an impressive book to look at, from the ornate cover to the lavish full-color illustrations throughout. I would agree that it is certainly worth the price as a coffee table book for casual browsing.
However, the actual text of The Steambook Bible is disappointing and in places nearly unreadable. At times it is very pretentious. It elevates certain steampunk workshops and groups to levels of influence that they do not necessarily deserve outside their limited geographic sphere. Reading the book, one also gets the impression that the typical influential steampunk follower does not actually read books, and that nearly every one of them was most strongly affected by the Disney version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which, if true, is a shame when this was suppose to have begun as a literary genre which spread to fashion and art.
For me, Jeff Vandermeer's text both elevated steampunk to an absurd sort of elitist level and trivialized it at the same time. Only the illustrations made the book worthwhile.