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Big Difference Between Editions?

  1. Aug 29, 2011 #1
    Is there any important reason to buy the newest edition? Or is it just a business scheme?

    For example the difference between Calculus: Early Transcendental Functions by Larson edition 5 and 4.

    I'm not sure if I should buy the newest editions or not because some professors let you use the older ones.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2011 #2
    For the most part new editions contain minor changes due to typos or problems in the questions at the end of each chapter. One major thing is that the questions will always be jumbled around between editions (rarely different questions though). So you might be able to get away with an older edition of a textbook, but chapter numbers might be different and I guarantee assignment problem numbers will not match up in the 4th edition to what might be assigned in the 5th edition.
  4. Aug 30, 2011 #3
    So getting an older edition won't really hinder your education in anyway correct? .. I'm going to postpone buying my books till my first class to see the professors' take on it. Hopefully it won't get in the way.
  5. Aug 30, 2011 #4
    Any edition published in the last ten years will have no important differences. You would get MUCH more for your money by buying older editions of two different authors, say Larson and Stewart, for 20 bucks each, than spending $200 on a single new book. More problems, more worked examples, more coverage, and different viewpoints and explanations for tricky subjects.
  6. Aug 30, 2011 #5
    In most cases, yes, buying the new edition is just a waste of money. Generally, the main issue with buying old editions is when the prof assigns homework problems directly from the text book. Very often, the question numbers will change in a new edition and even the numbers given are often changed as well (e.g. they change 15 m/s to 12 m/s), so it can be really difficult to do your homework if you have the wrong edition. That said, in one of my classes, when the prof gave homework sets he would assign them from the current edition, and then also give a list of which questions those corresponded to in the old text and all corrections that needed to be made so that the questions were the same. So some profs are very willing accommodate students with an older edition.

    In most cases, you really don't need the newest edition. There usually aren't any drastic changes from one edition to another. Check if there's going to be homework assigned directly from the text, and if not, just be reasonable (i.e. don't get the 2nd edition when the 10th edition is recommended) and you should be fine. If you have the ability to do so, you also probably should make sure that it still covers the same topics. Generally, there's very little change, but that may not always be true.
  7. Aug 31, 2011 #6
    Thanks for the input fellow posters. :)
  8. Sep 2, 2011 #7
    The reason that so many of these popular undergraduate texts are in their 5th, 6th, or higher edition (13th edition was highest edition I saw for an undergrad Physics text, and 12th for Calculus) is simply to remove competition from the used textbook market. I really don't see a need for most such texts to go beyond a 3rd or even 2nd edition.
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