I find 800 page books to be intimidating. When you hold one in your hands it is like holding a log. (Log as in a piece of a tree as opposed to a file with events — for us geeks) I bought the CISCO CCNA Exam #640-507 Preparation Library Set back in March of 2002 (yes, 10 years ago) and received 3 books that totaled 2000+ pages of text. The simple truth is I probably read less than 150 pages before becoming frustrated and getting caught up in other life events. Sadly, I never picked them up again. One of those books alone was around 1000 pages. The problem with reading a 1000 page book is that when you are 50 pages into it you literally feel the weight of the other 950 pages behind page 50. It is intimidating. I am an able reader and it is not as if I cannot read a book that size, but it is a formidable task that requires additional time and commitment.
However, I have a great solution if you are like me and are intimidated by 800 page printed books. It is called Kindle! Technically, I used the Kindle application on iPad and Mac and not an actual Amazon Kindle hardware device but the principle is the same. A couple of months ago I read the Steve Jobs biography over a 2-3 day period. I was looking at some reviews on Amazon.com and it caught my attention that it was a 656 page book! Wow! I read a 656 page book in almost no time. Yup. I was really interested in the topic so I suppose I might have got through the printed version of the book but not as fast. You see, I read it on the iPad and I read it a chapter at a time. I never felt like there was a long way to go because the iPad weighs/feels the same with a 100 page book or a 1000 page book.
This may be a small mental thing, but it definitely makes the Cisco Press and various other certification books more approachable and less intimidating. I just dig in and start reading without regard to the text size. In fact, many Kindle titles to not have page numbers at all and only show a location bar. I find I am able to tear through material faster. I have found other advantages as well. For example, I can read in the dark or in low light situations. I can read in places where holding an 800 page book would be an issue. (you figure that out on your own) I can zoom diagrams, make notes in the text, and put the errata into the text easily.
I currently have all of my certification study books in either Kindle or iBooks format. I couldn’t possibly carry all those books around in printed format! I believe this new medium is going to be a huge asset in my certification studies. It is also helping me stay dedicated to the cause and better at studying. I highly recommend this method if you have been put off or intimidated by the sheer volume of the printed materials. 🙂