In this digital age, where tweets and Facebook updates have become infamous for their superfluous nature, it would seem there is no limit to what is necessary to be expressed via written words. One worry though, is that as libraries age and wither, will we trust Apple and Amazon to keep the digital texts the same as the physical? Will Apple be able to one day, and over time, be able to edit out parts of books it deems necessary to be censored. Will this censorship have mass impact on our cultures by effectively eliminating the information, just as burning a library did centuries ago? Whoa, we need to take it easy on the blotter, as a college student you're just upset that textbook prices are so high.
Guess what, it's no coincidence that textbook editions change almost every year now. This was drastically different just a decade ago, when textbook editions lasted longer. By changing editions every year, it makes passing down your old textbooks difficult. Renting textbooks is now all too common, which means no writing in your textbooks, very reminiscent of high school is it not? Or you could buy the textbook and hope to sell it back, but that also means no highlighting, underlining, or doodling on those precious pages.
What's the difference in these textbook editions? Have we made that much change in Algebra in the last 365 days? Has Biology drastically changed its views on cells and the human anatomy? Should we assume that History from 1500-1750 has been false all along? Surprisingly... no. Not in the slightest.
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In a shocking similarity, Biology: Science for Life edition 3 is about as different from Biology: Science for Life edition 4, as Madden 2012 is from Madden 2013.
So, the differences in these physical editions of these textbooks seem to only be as important as far as the course assignments are concerned. Granted, the examples may be slightly more up to date, for example, instead of Clinton appearing in a classroom to talk about the human anatomy, it may be Obama in a cliche classroom talking about medicine. Oh, and also there is about a 100$ price difference in editions, so if you have a personal thirst for knowledge, save money that could be better spent not-socializing and buy the earliest edition possible.
Then comes the problem of courses that require, online "help", or online assignments. To be able to use this online material to further your knowledge it's understood that you can access this technology by having the appropriate technology. I.e. An up-to-date laptop that can download the software, speedy internet access, and of course the Access Code- which requires the purchase of a new textbook that comes with the code. Even if you have the right textbook edition thanks to a friend, passing the course is going to rely on your ability to access and submit online information. Many companies truly care about your education such as The McGraw-Hill Companies and ALEKS -- Assessment and Learning, which both offer programs that cost upwards of 100$ a piece, for a 6 month period. This means if you decide to drop the course, you have an added wasted expense.
1. Rent/ Resell the God-Foresaken book
Renting guarantees lower prices, but take some precautions. Make sure the book isn't damaged and can be reused and make sure you don't need an online course access code which only comes with new books. But wait! Often, the software or access code can be bought separately. Compare the costs of buying a new book with the software included versus renting the book and buying the software separately. Also realize that with both renting and reselling, damage to the book could cost more that you realize, which includes highlighting important information and folding corners of the pages. Reselling a new textbook is more of a risk, because if the edition changes before you can resell your slightly used book, you're stuck with a heavy paper weight and expensive reminder to hate textbook companies.
2. Use ebay and Amazon to your advantage buy buying used books online often for a much cheaper price than at your local "Used Textbook" store. The risks associated here include getting sent the wrong edition, a damaged copy, or the wait period, which you may not have, and shipping costs.
3. Torrent your textbooks or buy a much cheaper, albeit older, edition. Now your only problem will be finding a friend who will loan your cheap-self his book so you can copy down the homework problems. If you decide to save an incredible amount of money this way, realize the importance of attending class. Now that demonoid has been closed, torrenting textbooks may have gone "the way of Old Yeller" (edition 1) or according to edition 4 "the way of MegaUpload."