Five Reasons Why Print Editions of Exam Certification Guides are Better Than E-books

In order to prepare for my CCIE R&S recert, and in an attempt to save trees, I bought the e-book (Kindle edition) of CCIE Routing and Switching Certification Guide, 4th Edition from Amazon.com. The print edition costs at least $20 more than the Kindle edition. However, after a few weeks of reading it on my first generation Kindle, I returned it to Amazon and bought the print edition instead. Here are the reasons why:

  1. The print edition of the book is accompanied with a CD that contains 200 sample exam questions. Amazon’s page for the Kindle edition of the book does not make it clear that these questions are unavailable in the Kindle edition. Obviously, sample exam questions are essential for preparing for the exam. One misses out on a lot by not having access to them.
  2. The nature of any networking exam’s preparation is such that figures and diagrams are key for studying. The small 7 inch Kindle screen makes it difficult to focus on studying as I was zooming in on every figure, which is an image, and panning and scrolling just to read all the text. You need to be able to glance when studying for exams that have diagrams, and Kindles simple cannot address that problem.
  3. The Sync to Furthest Page Read button in the Kindle is useless with this ebook because of hyperlinks that point to Appendices at the back of the book. Each chapter begins with a Do I know this already? section, in which some questions are asked. The answers to those questions are at the back of the book in the Appendices. Once I would visit it, Kindle software would think that I have read all the way to the Appendices. That is obviously wrong. There should be a Sync to Last Page Read button/feature instead.
  4. The errata for the book (which can be downloaded from the publisher’s website) refers to physical page numbers of the print edition. The Kindle device (at least mine) does not interpret physical page numbers. It only reports locations. So I could not use the errata that the publisher provided. Therefore my studying was impacted as I was unsure about some content that could have been incorrect.
  5. Amazon’s return policy for digital content is only 7 days. This was not enough to tell whether the digital format of an exam study guide would work for me. I needed more time. Ultimately, a couple of months had passed before I decided to throw in the towel and request Amazon for a refund while I purchased the print edition. To Amazon’s credit, they refunded me after I provided them with the above reasons.

I’m curious to learn about the experiences others may have had.

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