I have ArcSoft Photostudio 2000 and Ulead Photo Impact 6 at moment, not the most exiting but until I get some practice I don't want to splash out. It seems a pity though that there are not some more generic books that explain things to the novice - such as layers.
There are some good monthly mags dedicated to Digital Photo users, some of which have regular video clip tutorials on their cover CD. As has been said above, they generally concentrate on a few progrs only. The one I take works with Adobe Elements, Photoshop and also Photoplus but many of the techniques illustrated are applicable in other progs too. If you do look to buy some new software, Adobe Elements is a reasonably priced place to start.
I did a digital photography night course, which was based on Adobe Elements 2. I didn't have this software which was £60 - £70 so I did a search on e-bay and got the previous version Elements 1 from Germany for £11.00 delivered. It did everything that was needed for that course. HTH TR