The purpose of this guide is to share with you my experience with buying International or Global edition textbooks. I hope my experience can help someone with his/her decision to buy these books over the more expensive US edition.
As a current online college student, I buy no less than 10 college textbooks a year. Any college student - past or current, traditional or non-traditional - knows how expensive these books can be. When I started out, I always requested a book voucher to use in the college book store. While this is convenient because I don't owe any money up front, it ends up being very costly in the long run because eventually the student loans, which include the book vouchers, have to be paid off.
In the bookstore, one textbook has cost me anywhere from $100-$200 new, and MAYBE 10-20% markdown if it's used. Then when you go to resell your book back to the store, you get back less than half of what you paid - my guess is more like one-third of what you paid. So, if I buy 10 textbooks a year at $100 each, I'm spending$1000 just on books. Then if I get $30 back for each book, I'm only getting $300 back, and still out $700. To some, this might not seem like a lot of money, but I think to most people it's a bit much for books. After a few classes, I started looking around the internet for cheaper solutions and I found it right here on ebay - International Student Editions, sometimes called ISE or Global Editions.
The very first one I purchased was for Economics. The bookstore didn't have any used books available, and the new ones were running around $150. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the same book on ebay for $40 brand new! As I looked further, I realized these were the ISE books and felt pretty apprehensive about buying them. I wondered if they would be cheap knock-offs or photocopies. I wondered if the content would be the same or if I would be stuck in a tough spot during class because the book was wrong. I decided to take the chance and buy it, and I had absolutely no problems.
Since then, I've bought all my textbooks on ebay and if the ISE version is cheaper, then that's what I buy. I have never had a problem with these books and I doubt I ever will. I did some research to find out more and it turns out that these publishers simply sell a different version overseas for MUCH cheaper than they do here in the US. From my experience, the only difference I have ever noticed is the cover and the ISBN. If the US edition is hardcover, then the ISE will usually be softcover. In fact, all the ISE books I've bought have been softcover. I've heard that sometimes the stories/examples/scenarios (or whatever else you might call them) are different but I haven't personally come across this.
Now, there are two problems I have with the US Edition vs. International Edition, and neither have to do with the textbooks themselves.
The first problem is with the publishers. I am outraged that students in the US are essentially getting price gouged on textbooks. Why are publishers allowed to charge us twice as much for a book than they are overseas?? I haven't found an answer to this yet. From what I've read, there used to be copyright laws not allowing the ISE books to be sold to the US, but this has changed. I'm not certain if they can actually be bought in the US directly from the publishers or manufacturers, but they can be bought from a seller in another country who has bought from the US. As ebay buyers, we can either buy these books from someone who has them overseas, or a middleman in the US who gets them from overseas. Seems like a lot of work around but I guess that's what it takes right now.
The second problem I have is with the sellers on ebay. Most people will post the US edition as their listing, then in the description they say things like "Please disregard the prefilled information as ebay doesn't allow us to change it." I think this can be misleading or confusing to the potential buyer, or someone who's new to buying the ISE version. I know it was confusing to me at first. On one hand, I feel like they should have the display picture as the actual version being sold, not the US edition. On the other hand, I can understand as a seller that it would be hard to get buyers who are looking for the US ISBN to find the International version. There could be an argument either way, but I won't get too deep into it.
I try to find a balance when I buy - I look for a seller who has good feedback (always), who is cheapest, and who has the most honest listing. Sometimes I end up buying from somewhere like Malaysia, and sometimes I buy from here in the US, but I haven't had a problem with either.
One final benefit I get from buying the ISE textbooks online is the resale value. I always resell the books I buy online and usually make back what I paid or just a little less. In the end, not only do I only pay $40-$50 for each book, I make my money back or end up with only a $5 or $10 loss. Now that is a price I can feel comfortable with!