Unless I am mistaken, the Java Associate certificate used to be a separate certification from the Java Programmer Certificate. Are these now combined into one? If they are still separate, does your book cover both certifications? In your opinion, do you feel that employers are looking more for the Programmer certificate than the associate.... or does it not seem to matter that much one way or the other?
The new OCAJP 7 is the pre-requisite of OCPJP 7. You can't compare it at all with the previous OCAJ 5/6. The OCAJP 7 requires a lot more java knowledge than OCAJ (overloading, overriding, String, ArrayList, inheritance, polymorphism, operators, control structures,...). I don't think the book covers the OCPJP topics, because that's also more advanced than the previous OCPJP 6 exam (jdbc, nio2, new concurrency api,...).
So if you want to become an OCPJP you first have to pass the OCAJP exam and then you can take the OCPJP one. If i was an employer looking for a java developer, I definitely would prefer someone with an OCPJP 7 certification (above OCAJP). But OCAJP beats no certification at all
They are still separate. My book only covers the associate level certification. The importance of certification depends on the employer. For those employers that don't feel it is important, certification does show a more intense desire to learn and understand Java. Between two equally qualified applicants, it can make a difference.