I'm in the process of re-reading The Baroque Cycle and have gotten curious about Newton's time at the Royal Mint. Ideally, I would like something more detailed than the two paragraphs that Wikipedia devotes to this, but shorter than a 300+ page book*. I've had similar experiences in the past: no matter how much The Economist raved about a ~1000 page history of the British Navy, I was never able to commit to actually reading it all the way through. I think this is more than Internet-induced ADD; I manage to read a book every 4-6 weeks, and dedicating a slot to such a unitasker seems wasteful.
I realize that producing a shorter book on the subject may not be any cheaper or less resource/research-intensive than a long book. I would even be willing to pay the same amount for the digested version as I would for the full version. With recent developments like Kindle Singles there also wouldn't be the issue of fixed production/distribution costs that should be amortized by creating a longer book. Though fiction-centric, Charles Stross has a good explanation of why books are the length that they are.
I used to think that abridged editions, CliffsNotes, and the like were an abomination (as far as not getting the experience the author intended) and for lazy people. To some degree I still do; I think ideally these alternate editions should be produced by the same author, or with the author's blessing.
* As it turns out, there is a 128-page 1946 book about Newton's time at the Mint. Perhaps there was less need to pad then?
Update later that day: Based on the endorsement on Buzz I'll give the (modern) Newton book a try. Part of the reason why I was soured on longer non-fiction books was that I tried reading Operation Mincemeat and was put off by the amount of seemingly extraneous background information and cutesy anecdotes. Incidentally, Operation Mincemeat has a brief appearance in Cryptonomicon, another Neal Stephenson book – I promise that I read other authors too.