The National NeedleArts Association publication "How to Needlepoint" is an excellent publication for beginning stitchers. First off, it is very affordable ($6.95). Secondly, it gives a lot of information in a small package (30 p. ) so it doesn't require a huge investment of either time or money.
I especially like the section on background information. It is quite comprehensive, giving basic information on the various types of canvas, threads and needles as well as information on how to do the tent stitch using both the Continental and the Basketweave methods.
How to Needlepoint is also a good introduction to the world decorative stitches featuring such easy beginning stitches as the Mosaic stitch, Scotch stitch, Gobelin, and Florentine. However, it also includes information on some more challenging decorative stitches such as the Diamond Eyelet, Sheaf stitch, Smyrna Cross and Leaf Stitch.
The book includes a useful glossary of common needlepoint terms. All the information is presented in a clear, straightforward manner with good diagrams and directions.
Next time you are in the shop, check it out. It is over in the "Beginner Section" (did you know that we had a beginner section of the store?) or just ask anybody at the store should be able to find it for you. Happy stitching!