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Picking A Good Text

  1. Aug 22, 2007 #1

    Defennder

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    What do you guys look for before deciding to buy a textbook? Assume that you don't have any recommendations for texts, or that you have recommendations for 2 or more but can afford time and money enough to buy and read thoroughly only 1 of them. Then what do you consider most important before deciding to buy a text? I'm talking about physics, maths and engineering textbooks

    I assume the following factors are important:

    1. Practice excercises, problems with accompanying solutions at the back.
    2. Favourability of reviews on Amazon.com (yeah I know this one is pretty subjective, but if a number of reviews on Amazon tell you that quite a number of numerical solutions to the problems of a textbook are erroneous, would you still buy the book?)
    3. Cost and pricing of book.
    4. Whether or not it's the recommended text for the class you're taking?

    What else should I consider?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2007 #2

    lurflurf

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    1. Practice excercises, problems with accompanying solutions at the back.
    Why is that good? Make up you own problems and solve them.
    Most books have plemty of problems anyway it takes a will to do the seval hundred problems most books give
    2. Favourability of reviews on Amazon.com (yeah I know this one is pretty subjective, but if a number of reviews on Amazon tell you that quite a number of numerical solutions to the problems of a textbook are erroneous, would you still buy the book?)
    Those reviews can be helpful but many are suspect
    "I reals good at matho but dis book gots ting call theorem arnd proof me no like book be's many bads and stuff dude!!!!!!!!!"
    Errors are at times an irritation, but many good books have them and it would be a shame to miss out on them due to a few typos. Think glass is half full
    Exercise for student:Find all errors
    You did want more exercises
    3. Cost and pricing of book.
    Definitly important
    $0.1/page is tolerable just barely
    many good books are $0.25 and up some as high as $1
    they are not that good
    4. Whether or not it's the recommended text for the class you're taking?
    Many horrible texts are recomended
    Even good texts might not mesh with ones personal style

    I look at
    1)Other books by the Author I may be familar with (dangerous as many Authors quality is variable)(on the other hand useful information is often gained)
    2)Is the book a standard? if so it may be of use even if somewhat flawed
    3)Recomendations from TRUSTED sources
    persons here
    famous mathematicians
    peers
    Good Authors
    4)best method lay eyes upon book even if briefly check contents level style ect.
     
  4. Aug 23, 2007 #3

    Defennder

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    Well firstly, given that as a student, I wouldn't know whether or not I've understood a concept correctly before solving problems. So how would you expect a student to know if either they are wrong or the textbook is? And more importantly, you claim that students should make up your own problems and solve them. Well I find this quite ridiculous, honestly. If we could do that, there'll be no need for textbook excercises. Excercises are meant to aid in understanding, so you can't treat them as though they're separate and independent of the conceptual explanations.

    You speak of Amazon.com's book reviews as though most are written by leet-speaking inarticulate readers who are too clever by half to understand the text they're reviewing. I have looked through quite a number of textbook reviews by Amazon.com, and have yet to find even a single review which may be characterised as similar to your condescending typical example. I think it suffices to say that most reviews on Amazon are readable and provide a certain level of insight into the text. The only question is how serious should they be regarded?
     
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