artphoto by splunge
artphoto by TheophileEscargot
artphoto by Kronos_to_Earth
artphoto by ethylene





Mecha Wiki

Metachat Eye


IRC Channels



Comment Feed:


25 August 2008

Ask MeCha: Textbooks are expensive! [More:]

I'm starting a university class tomorrow, and opted to buy the textbook used from an online source and saved over $100.

I got the textbook today, and it's an older edition than the one the class will be using. The ISBN in the book is completely different from the ISBN it's listed under, so I am certain I could get a refund. But the class does start tomorrow night, and I did only pay $15 for this book (including shipping).

So how different can editions be? The newest one (ed. 4) was published in 2008, the one I have (ed. 3) in 2004. Should I be able to get by in class with the older version? It's a French class, if that makes any difference.
It depends. One of the biggest issues is that publishers often renumber the practice questions and problem sets between editions. They might even reorder the pages, though a lot of the material will be the same. If your prof is assigning questions and exercises out of the newest text, you may have to check with a student who has the current edition to figure out which questions you actually need to do.

I know that this is definitely the case for science texts (they do it specifically to entice students to buy the newest, priciest version), but I'm not quite sure how often this occurs in foreign language texts.
posted by unsurprising 26 August | 00:36
Oh, and just as a helpful hint - Abebooks often has the "international" versions of many US hardcover texts. They're usually softcover and much cheaper, but if the edition is the same, what's inside the book will be identical.
posted by unsurprising 26 August | 00:38
My professors were usually pretty ok with us using older editions.

The one thing may be that the page numbers may be different, so if you're doing a lot of exercises in class, you may need to pay close attention or do a lot of page-flipping. But even that's not a given.
posted by occhiblu 26 August | 00:39
Thanks guys. I think I'll take it to class tomorrow and check with the instructor. It's not a pretty book, definitely in worse condition than the description, but I would hate to be without a book for the first few weeks.
posted by rhapsodie 26 August | 00:56
Sometimes textbooks are torrented. I'd say go the first day and compare the text with the latest edition, fake it for two weeks while your new one arrives, then arrange for the refund. Sometimes the professor will put one on reserve.
posted by craniac 26 August | 01:03
Knowledge is priceless but textbooks are not
NYT Link on bookfinder. Which may or may not be helpful.
posted by seanyboy 26 August | 04:03
Seconding the usefulness of international editions.

If I were you, which I'm not :) I would hook up and form a study group with someone else in the class who has the 2008 edition. That way you can check to make sure you're doing the right practice problems and homework exercises.

(When I graded for math classes, it was pretty easy to tell which students were using an older edition, because they'd all do the same wrong problem from time to time.)
posted by muddgirl 26 August | 07:54
unsurprising's advice is what you should do. Make sure you have the right edition, international version, and you'll save potentially a couple of grand on textbooks over the course of a full university education.
posted by middleclasstool 26 August | 10:43
I was almost in the same position for my Spanish book. But the instructor said the differences were pretty minor and had assignments for both editions in the syllabus.

I found in my long and illustrious college career that instructors didn't mind the older versions unless they wrote the book.
posted by birdherder 26 August | 11:21
WELL. I just got back from my first university class in 7 years, and it went well. The professor said that the difference in versions was negligible, and there was "no need" to get the new version.

In addition, when I told him I didn't have an audio CD, he said he'd bring me an extra. Score! I sat there looking at the 19-year-olds with brand new $120 books (seriously - last time I was in school, my chemistry texts cost around $160, but they lasted three semesters of the class), and I wanted to brag that I got mine for only $15. Ha!
posted by rhapsodie 26 August | 23:03
DNC! USA! USA! DNC! || Bunny?