No you don't need the book. Just check out the information listed under the Phase I tab on Atkins.com. I knew nothing about the program a few weeks ago. Then I researched what I needed to do, started that same day and after being in the Induction phase for two weeks I have lost 14 1/2 pounds. I am not saying the book won't be beneficial, it's just not necessary to get a jump start. Good luck!
One day at a time!