Buying high priced textbooks is stressful enough, but the jargon can make the process even more confusing. What’s the difference between an international edition textbook, a used textbook, and a custom edition? AbeBooks is here to help make it easier. Read below to find the definitions to some key textbook terms and buy your textbooks with confidence knowing you have bought the right one.

Textbook – a book used in schools, colleges, and universities as a standard work for instruction on a particular course or subject. Traditionally textbooks are only published in printed format. However, many publishers are allowing textbooks to be made available as electronic books (or e-books)

ISBN – an ISBN is a 10 or 13-digit number that identifies a particular title and edition of a book. You can find the ISBN on the back cover and is the best way to identify your textbook. Searching for textbooks by ISBN ensures that you buy the correct edition and copy.

New textbook – a new textbook is a new edition from a publisher. It has not been used before and is in perfect, mint condition without a broken  spine and writing or highlighting.

Used textbook – a used textbook often has minimal writing and highlighting, and is generally in good condition (ie. No torn or missing pages, front cover undamaged). Due to increasingly high textbook prices, used textbooks are in high demand and sell very quickly. Students can save money by buying used textbooks on AbeBooks, often up to 50% off the list price.

Domestic edition textbook – a textbook that has been published for sale in the US and Canada. These are the most typical student edition textbooks.

Instructor’s edition – teacher’s edition textbooks are sometimes also called free editions and are just like the regular student edition.

Annotated teacher’s edition textbook – these textbooks are similar to the regular student edition. However, it contains extra notes and/or answers to the questions in the back of the text.

International edition* textbooks – an international edition is a textbook that has been published outside of the US and can be drastically cheaper than the US edition. Often international editions are printed on cheaper quality paper, are softcover instead of hardcover or are in black and white. An international edition will be clearly labelled on the front or back cover or on the inside title page.

*The publishers of International Editions generally do not authorize the sale and distribution of International Editions in the United States and Canada and such sale or distribution may violate the copyrights and trademarks of the publishers of such works.

Custom editions – a custom edition textbook is a school-specific textbook created for a particular course and university. Often the name of the school will appear on the cover of the book and the textbook is usually slightly different than mass-produced versions (ie. Different chapters, paging etc.).

Study guide – a supplementary resource that assists in comprehension of literature, history, math, and other subjects. Study guides for math or science often include problems and offer techniques on solutions. Literature based guides will often provide insight and questions to consider. There are many types of study guides available from Cliffsnotes to SAT and GMAT guides. Study guides are a useful study resource for students.

Buyback – students can save money by selling their textbooks back when they are finished their courses. Universities and colleges will often have their own buyback programs at the end of each semester, but students can save even more by comparing buyback prices online year round. has partnered with TextbooksRus to offer a buyback program. It offers free shipping, is easy to use, and payment is quick.

e-books – Publishers are now offering some textbooks in electronic versions (also called e-books). E-books are becoming popular alternatives to traditional printed textbooks and usually represent some savings for students.