Unlike diamonds, college textbooks arenâ€™t forever. A developing problem with paper resources is the continual update of information and the near constant printing of this newer, updated information. It is said that, for these reasons, college textbooks will be phased out with computers. For now, college textbooks will be produced and passed on until they are replaced.
With each new edition, sometimes an author will revise a few examples that demonstrate the topics. In some cases, things that were taught before become obsolete or corrected. Most of the time, an edition is released to keep the material of the book up to date and pertinent to current trends. A college textbook regarding engineering drawing, for example, would be well into computer aided design programs and will probably contain information about the newest engineering design programs in the next edition.
Some fields require little new editions. In the study of classic literature, for example, the books do not change, short of selecting the reading. Reading a classical piece of literature entails that the student is studying the literature as it was written, sometimes translated. Even in this context, there may be classical reading textbooks that the class uses. The author might want to throw in more commentary or change out the selection. Regardless, college textbook editions are hard not to deal with.
What often happens, and is not recommended, is that a student will purchase or make use of a prior edition textbook. Since the change in content from edition to edition is not necessarily that drastic, most students will get by using a previous edition. In community colleges, if purchasing a new edition is out of the general budget, the instructor will usually let students use previous editions.
The problem with using a previous edition in class, however, is that the content doesnâ€™t match the newer material. The concepts and lessons will remain ultimately the same, since a teacher rarely ever follows the books strict provisions. Homework assignments, on the other hand, often come right out of the book. Topics and lessons are also covered in sections and chapters. Not having the up-to-date edition might complicate things.
Of course, with each new edition that arises from the previous book, there are always ways around purchasing a brand new copy. Buying used books is one way to avoid spending several hundred dollars over a slight difference in information. Renting books through online companies is another great way to save on textbooks. Buying and renting used books has provided large scale relief for students hoping to avoid high book prices.
Usually, purchasing or renting the specific book assigned for a given class wonâ€™t pose to be a challenge. If the newest edition is available for purchase, buy it. If it can be rented, rent it. If you absolutely cannot afford the newest edition, and the newest edition canâ€™t be rented, odds are that you will do fine with the previous edition.