T Nation

Cheaper Textbooks

Due to the high prices of textbooks I have started looking on the internet for cheaper prices. I came across international editions of economics textbooks that were probaly 80% cheaper than the u.s editions but before I ordered I was wondering if this was legal.

In class the econ. prof. said that it was illegal to buy international books and/or than sell them to fellow students is this true?

I question her because I know she in somehow involved with the publishing company.


PGA is correct, half.com is #1 for textbooks. so is ebay (not as reliable) and amazon (more reliable in my opinion). I get used books (generally not textbooks though sorry) on amazon for like a dollar, sometimes less.

also i sincerely doubt that buying international books is illegal… selling them to students as a distributor maybe, but letting a few friends in on the deal shouldn’t be a big deal.

make sure that you have the same edition though you’ll be royally fubar’d if you buy some international edition and its in french.

I graduated two years ago and was battling the same problem. I was getting charged $125 bucks for a book I barely cracked open.

I usually never used the book unless it was deemed necessary. I always went to class and paid attention, so in most cases I could get away with borrowing or splitting the cost with a friend. However, some courses require them.

So, to answering your question if it?s illegal, maybe, but who the hell cares. They’re charging you and arm and a leg to go to school anyway, F’em if they want to bitch about some books.

I used some international versions of texts, and they were cheaper and the same material. NOTE: they might have discrepancies in the page numbers and such, and they might be black and white instead of color, but they suited me just fine.

I say if you want to use int. textbooks, go head on bro. That teacher is probably is getting some perk for pushing that book anyway.

Go used and good luck!

It’s not illegal, I’ve bought several international versions and they’re identical to the US versions, content, page numbers, etc. The only difference is that a lot of them are paper back instead of hard back.

Another thing you can think about is the resell value of those books. You can’t take them to a university book store and a lot of students don’t want them for whatever reason.

Personally, I’ve been better off purchasing a used U.S version on half.com then selling it back on there also. After transaction cost + the original purchase price - what I sell it for; I’m only out $10-$20 per book.

Either way your a lot better off than purchasing at the books store for $100+ then selling them back for $35, assuming they didn’t come out with a new edition making yours useless.

so I have been reading around and I think it is not illegal to buy international editions but it may be illegal to resell them.

Some sites say it is legal as long as the manufacturer of the book is doing it legally and as long as you are not selling hundreds of them as a distributor, you can resell it to friends.

However I want to be sure because at the end of the semester I resell my books to other students.

I have a friend who recently started selling international edition textbooks after he used them and although some professors said it was illegal who showed some laws that apply to this that make it legal.

Someone who is familiar with law might bw able to translate it for you. here it it:

  1. Yes. Some publishers will label these textbooks with phrases such as “Not for sale within the USA” or after a list of countries the book is available for distribution in, “Distribution outside these areas is unauthorized.” This doesn’t mean that it’s illegal to buy these books. Publishers would prefer if students in North America bought textbooks produced specifically for the North American market. These “warnings” are a way that publishers identify the books that were published specifically for foreign markets.

In most cases, the textbooks offered have been purchased by the bookseller from another bookseller in the country of origin. Because the textbooks are not being sold by the original purchaser, they technically become “used” items and these can be freely sold worldwide. As the bookseller shipping you the book was not supplied directly by the publisher, no laws (copyright or trademark etc.) are broken

  1. First Sale Doctrine deals with the exhaustion of intellectual property rights. For a book, the rights are typically the protections under copyright law and trademark law. The book you purchased is a “grey market” book – it is a legal, authorized copy of the book, but distributed through “unauthorized” channels. Since it is a legal copy, there are no copyright issues; the rights under copyright law are “exhausted” once the copy is sold.

The only issue left is one of trademark. In the case of a grey market importer, the trademark holder could possibly pursue a cause of action for misappropriation against the importer – but it is not a criminal issue, it is not illegal to purchase a grey market product (all of the risk for importing and selling grey market products are on the distributors trying to bypass the authorized channels).

Basically, as long as YOU don’t purport to be an authorized dealer of the book, you can freely sell the book – baiscally, again, once the book is in the hands of a consumer, the trademark protections are “exhausted” and the trademark holder cannot further control the distribution of THAT particular copy of the book unless there is some other factor in play, such as you pretending to be an authorized distributor.

Now, if this had been a “black market” import – that is, if the book you purchased was an unauthorized COPY of the book (as opposed to merely being a legal copy distributed through unauthorized channels) – THEN the first sale doctrine would not protect you, as any sale of an unauthorized copy of a copyrighted product is copyright infringement, and the copyright owner could come after you. In this case, the copyright holder’s rights are NOT exhausted

[quote]jm85 wrote:
assuming they didn’t come out with a new edition making yours useless.[/quote]

Often times, you can find an old edition (by a generation or two) that’s nearly identical to the new one. Sometimes, a new edition just means prettier pictures. No joke. And the best part is that the old editions go for a few bucks.