These books are very comprehensive. There are may multi-component mechanisms described in great detail for mechanically inclined people. For automata makers, and beginners in particular, it may be a bit too much to digest, but certainly there are hundreds of mechanical elements that could be used.
The drawings are very good -- clear and well labeled line art reminiscent of patent drawings.
These books offer multiple solutions for each category of machine. The organization is a little funny -- since you will need to browse all four books to cover all the solutions. You'll learn a lot along the way.
Be Ready to Do Some Reading
These books will require some careful reading of several pages to absorb how a given device works. It's not exactly a quick reference.
If you are more of a visual-learner -- as I am -- I would suggest that you buy Mechanisms and Mechanical Devices Sourcebook, which shows an isolated mechanism and places one, short paragraph of text immediately next to it. If you are on a budget, you might consider 507 Mechanical Movements in Dynamics, Hydraulics, Hydrostatics, Pneumatics, Steam Engines, Mill and Other Gearing
The machines depicted in Ingenious Mechanisms are of an historical nature. This is not a shortcoming, however. Mechanisms of the sort found in these volumes were state-of-the-art at one time. There were no electronic sensors and computer controls at the turn of the last century. Everything had to work -- and had to work mechanically. It's a testament to a certain real-world ingenuity that most of us can't comprehend.
I feel these four volumes they have greatly improved my understanding of complex machines.
Learn more about Ingenious Mechanisms for Designers and Inventors (4-Volume Set) (Ingenious Mechanisms for Designers & Inventors)