Update #1: The first and third pictures (front and back) of the Renner Books post are of Don's book (darker spine).
Update #2: Thanks for all the camera tips, both in Comments and in email. Unfortunately, most advice applied to SLR cameras and this is just a basic point-and-shoot camera, with a number of options just not possible -- for example, there are only two f-stops, both pre-set and unchangeable. The sensor is relatively small.
The distortion is called "barrel" effect or "pincushion" and it is fixable in Photoshop Elements 2.0 by using the Spherize and/or Pinch filter, which is how I tweaked the Renner book photos. Distort/Skew/Perspective actually can distort too much if you aren't careful. But none of the options do a perfect job and I hate to have to tweak every picture. The advice that seems to be working is this: Stand way back, as far as possible, from the object and zoom in to take the picture. A tripod is recommended. So instead of putting objects on a table and standing over them to take pictures, I'll be putting them on the floor. We'll see.
I have to keep reminding myself we bought the little point-and-shoot because I wanted just that: a little camera to snap quick pictures, no need to worry about a lens or any settings (although it does have a number of Scene options and ISO settings). And it was the best fit in my clumsy hands.