I understand that very soon there will be a new SCJP exam (the 'plus'). If you were starting to study today, and you realized it would take you maybe 4,5,6 months (since you work full time), would you just wait for this new exam and and study materials for it to come to light? Or would you study the Bates' book and plan to take whatever exam is in use when you are ready? Will the Bates book help one study for the 'plus' exam?
A big rule in development is 'never develop based on features that will be available in a future release.' Apply that same rule to certification studies. This is a big change for Sun, and it will be a challenge to roll it out to various 'testing centers.' Already, Sun seems to have delayed the beta, and they haven't released much more info since the original posting about this. So, we may not see a rollout of this for a long, long time, maybe not until Java7? Hey, it might roll out next week. I don't have a crystal ball. But don't base your career aspirations on what 'might' happen.
'Plus,' I think the current SCJP will be easier. I think you'd kick yourself if you didn't get the current cert while you can. Why make things more difficult for yourself, while being a guinea pig for the new process? Better the 'devil you know,' as they say.
The Java language won't change, so the same great resources, like the K&B book will still be the standard resource for learning. Of course, your strategy might change, as it's more hands on, so you may do more code practice, as opposed to multiple choice practice.
Nobody really knows much more than the Sun site says (who knows how long this link will remain active):
You probably have lots of questions. So does everyone. There really isn't any information other than what's been posted in those two links above. So, I can pretty much answer every question you're thinking:
"Nobody knows, because there really isn't much information out there."
Frustratingly, that's probably the answer you'll get to every question you want to ask right now.