The difference between his book and SO MANY of the other textbooks I have is that his is actually good. Why do you think everyone recognizes the name "James Stewart" as the calculus author? Is there a definite textbook author for any other courses? I've got two physics degrees and an education degree, and Stewart's calculus and David Griffiths' Electricity and Magnetism texts were the only two that seemed to be so pervasive.
The main complaints need to be directed at publishers, not authors. Stewart started with a slow update cycle, but then publishers started putting books out of print and demanding new editions every two years to eliminate the used textbook sales market and try to force every student onto new editions. (If a book is out of print, the prof needs to order a new edition, because there is no other way to ensure there are enough available for all students.) Stewart is one of the authors who chose to meet the accelerated publication schedule instead of bowing out. Why begrudge him for filling a void that the publisher would fill with or without his help? I once tried ordering a textbook through a local brick and mortar store. This was 1998: the book was $110 at the campus bookstore, and the local Chapters (now owned by Indigo) expected to bring it in for a cost of $95 to me as a special order. They called before finalizing the order because the publisher checked their address and noticed they were not on campus, and changed to cost to them. Using the same proportionate markup, they would now have to charge me $180 for the same book. Tell me there's not gouging of customers going on there... (I spent $110 on campus instead, and ordered the rest of my textbooks online in later years to compete without the address flag. Saved an average of 15%, even after shipping fees.)