Did you know that you can save money by buying international edition textbooks?

Savvy students know a few tricks when it comes to scoring deals on textbooks. The first is to check the library. The second is to buy the international version of the textbook.


It’s the same book (in most cases) and much cheaper than buying the US version of the textbook. International editions, while cheaply made, can be purchased for a much more affordable price.

What are International Edition Textbooks?

Essentially, they are textbooks that have been published at a lower production cost for sale in foreign countries. They’re often softcover books, printed in black and white on cheap quality paper, and may not include supplementary material, such as CDs. Most have a label saying “International Student Edition” and “Not for sale in the US or Canada”.

Some textbooks in mathematics and other subjects involving numbers may have different mathematical problems. While these editions of the book will have a lot of the same content, you may run into issues when trying to do problem sets as sometimes the units are in metric. Email the bookseller to make sure.

Pros/Cons of using International Edition Textbooks


  • Save Big: Typically between 50% and 75% of the price of regular textbooks.
  • They have the same information as regular textbooks. Often times it’s the same book, but it may say something like, “For use in India only”.
  • International edition textbooks can be easily found at online booksellers.


  • International editions are generally paperback, lower quality paper (think phonebook-quality).
  • Some books may have units measured in metric, which may cause issues when doing problem sets.
  • Pagination may be off by a few pages when compared to the US version of the textbook.
  • Not as easy to sell when you no longer need the book. (Your college bookstore won’t buy it).
  • “The cheap black and white and sort of shades of gray print (instead of the full color in the US version) is a disaster for trying to interpret graphs - all the lines look the same!”

  • Where to Buy International Edition Textbooks

    It is possible to buy these books from sellers here in the US. You can often find these books at online marketplaces like Amazon, eBay, and BigWords.com. International editions of textbooks may have different ISBNs. We recommend you search by title and author as well as ISBN.

    Some sellers are located overseas, meaning shipping will cost a little more. Also, because of the time it takes to ship the book, you will have to order in advance to get your textbooks on time. In some cases, shipping can take up to 3 weeks. When ordering from these overseas sellers, consider going in on the purchase with a few friends so you can combine shipping. If there is any confusion when attempting to buy international textbooks, email the seller with any questions you may have about the book.

    Search for International Edition Textbooks at:

    How much can you actually save?

    A few weeks ago we looked at the cheapest places to buy textbooks online. The study compared the prices of multiple new textbooks. Amazon.com and Textbooks.com (thanks to their price match guarantee) were found to be the cheapest.

    When using the BigWords.com price comparison engine for international edition textbooks, we were able to find prices 66% cheaper than US edition textbooks. Remember, this is a 66% savings on top of the best savings already out there (from Amazon.com, the cheapest place to buy new US edition textbooks). Now compare that savings to how much your college bookstore is charging and you can really see how students in the US are being gouged with textbook prices.