Buying high priced textbooks is stressful enough, but the jargon can make the process even more confusing. What’s the difference between an international edition textbook and a secondhand textbook? AbeBooks is here to help make it easier. Read below to find the definitions to some key textbook terms and buy your textbooks with confidence knowing you have bought the right one.

Textbook – a book used in colleges, and universities as a standard work for instruction on a particular course or subject. Traditionally textbooks are only published in printed format. However, many publishers are allowing textbooks to be made available as electronic books (or e-books).

ISBN – an ISBN is a 10 or 13-digit number that identifies a particular title and edition of a book. You can find the ISBN on the back cover and is the best way to identify your textbook. Searching for textbooks by ISBN ensures that you buy the correct edition and copy.

New textbook – a new textbook is a new edition from a publisher. It has not been used before and is in perfect, mint condition without a broken spine and writing or highlighting.

Secondhand textbook – a secondhand, or used, textbook often has minimal writing and highlighting, and is generally in good condition (ie. No torn or missing pages, front cover undamaged). Due to increasingly high textbook prices, secondhand textbooks are in high demand and sell very quickly. Students can save money by buying secondhand textbooks on AbeBooks, often up to 50% off the list price.

Domestic edition textbook – a textbook that has been published for sale in the UK. These are the most typical student edition textbooks.

Instructor’s edition – teacher’s edition textbooks are sometimes also called free editions and are just like the normal student edition.

Annotated teacher’s edition textbook – these textbooks are similar to the normal student edition. However, it contains extra notes and/or answers to the questions in the back of the text.

International edition* textbooks – an international edition is a textbook that has been published outside of the UK and can be drastically cheaper than the UK edition. Often international editions are printed on cheaper quality paper, are paperback instead of hardback or are in black and white. An international edition will be clearly labelled on the front or back cover or on the inside title page.

*The publishers of International Editions generally do not authorise the sale and distribution of International Editions in the UK and such sale or distribution may violate the copyrights and trademarks of the publishers of such works.

Study guide – a supplementary resource that assists in comprehension of literature, history, mathematics, and other subjects. Study guides for maths or science often include problems and offer techniques on solutions. Literature-based guides will often provide insight and questions to consider.

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