When I did my undergraduate studies in the 1980's I remember my professor explaining that Kotler had been, at that point, "the" marketing text book for 20 years. I'm not sure, but Kotler may have invented the word "marketing." Decades later it remains the definitive book on marketing studies.
This version of the book is comprehensive, densely written while still being easy to read, logically structured, up to date with regard to case studies and technology, etc. I highly recommend this book as a marketing text and have tried, unsuccessfully so far, to get a few of my marketing friends who have not had the pleasure of reading this book, to put it in their bathroom or something and read a section here and a section there.
I have two knocks against this book. First, I find it to be a little lacking on the ethics side. There are many valid marketing techniques described which can be used, but which can also be abused. While the book does not ignore ethics altogether, I would have been more comfortable if along the way it highlighted that some of the practices described are not only "good ways to increase profit margins" but "are morally bankrupt" as well.
The second knock is that the authors have seemingly gone crazy and included dozens upon dozens of cutesy words various academicians, desperate for a lasting claim to fame, have invented out of whole cloth to describe things that didn't really need their own unique words. Some of my favorites:
Neither of these complains should detract anyone from buying this book because it is, in the end, the great marketing text of our era.