I think that was one of the points of the books. Distances are vast, traveling from A to B takes a lot of time, and the kinds of Gandalf, Sauron, the Elves, etc... have a lot of time, so they don't need to hurry things.
Okay, I'll buy that. If all parties feel the same way about the passage of time then I suppose that makes sense. Just seems like one side would gain a certain advantage by hastening things, which I would imagine is one part of why the movies flow the way they do.
IIRC the thinking in the book was that It'd be almost as dangerous the move against Sauron too soon as too late. Remember that the "free folk" weren't exactly a united front ready to pounce. The elves were all sidling off to the grey havens, the dwarves somewhat literally had their heads buried in the sand while the two kingdoms of men were busy with border wars. The best defence was in making Sauron think he had all the time in the world while they quietly slip into Mordor and dispose of the ring.
I think it was Christopher Lee who points out in one of the commentary that it's very important to understand who knows (or thinks they know) what is going on and when.
Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
Return of the King
Where do these other 3 movies come into the picture?
Oh haven't you heard? After 'The Hobbit', Jackson is going to do three, four hour long, 'Silmarillion' films.
I don't think anyone would with that on him!