Molar, normal, etc. in American?
August 4, 2011 6:54 AM   Subscribe

How are American Chemistry textbooks different from international ones?

I am required to buy some chemistry textbooks for college, and I have found them on ebay at half price, but it's the international edition.

I wonder if these books are any different in content (I don't care about paper quality, etc) to the American edition. I understand how Maths and Physics could be different, but what about Chemistry? Units are specifically a concern...
posted by Marduk to Education (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
In my experience, there is very little difference between International Edition and the American version of textbooks. This has been true regardless of the topic the book covers. The differences I've seen has mainly been little differences in the artwork/illustrations throughout the text.
posted by rancidchickn at 7:00 AM on August 4, 2011


I did this. There will be no meaningful difference between the same edition published for US and international markets. It's all the same metric system. However, you really want to have the same edition as the rest of the class--same problem sets, examples, etc.
posted by pullayup at 7:02 AM on August 4, 2011


In my experience they have been exactly the same - generally I will confirm that the problem sets are the same before I start homework, but I never found a difference.

Also note that often times, the international textbook took several weeks to over a month to arrive, as they were shipped from overseas. Things may have changed since I was an undergrad.
posted by muddgirl at 7:04 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should say, the SI units are the same everywhere in the world.
posted by pullayup at 7:05 AM on August 4, 2011


My boyfriend and his buddy did this back in college: bought up a bunch of the (extremely cheap) international version textbooks (from India, I think?) and sold them to other students in the class (for less than what they were in the bookstore, but more than what they paid for them online). The only difference was that the international version didn't have a cover, so they punched and bound them themselves before selling them off. Genius.

Anyway, point is, dozens of students had no problem using the non-American version of the textbook at a major university.
posted by phunniemee at 7:06 AM on August 4, 2011


American textbooks are often printed verbatim in India for Indian college students and much cheaper too. The only downside is the relatively poor binding and paper quality.
posted by Renoroc at 7:23 AM on August 4, 2011


Sometimes the Indian editions of textbooks had black and white illustrations while the US editions had color. Paper quality was also often poorer. No substantial differences though that I recall.
posted by peacheater at 7:24 AM on August 4, 2011


International editions bought from China will typically have a cover, title page, preface, and alternate table contents in Chinese. There will also be an English title page and table of contents, and all of the actual content will be identical to the US edition (and in English). Beware of exorbitant shipping charges.
posted by Nomyte at 7:47 AM on August 4, 2011


I teach college. Lots of my students use these "international editions" of books and they do fine. I don't know exactly how they get them, and I don't know if the legalities are a bit murky, but hey, I'm not the one losing the royalties.

Usually everything about the book is the same, including the page numbers. For the course I'm teaching currently, though, the international edition was re-typeset; it's kind of annoying because I can't refer to "the formula on page X" but since I know this I always make sure to give section numbers.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:25 AM on August 4, 2011


It was paperback and it had "For Use on the Indian Subcontinent Only" in small letters on the front. (This was for a math text which I picked up at the public library book sale for 1$. Which enabled me to sell back my hardcover copy for 150$, would've been more but it was already the end of the semester, alas.)
posted by anaelith at 9:44 AM on August 4, 2011


I buy international editions when I can get them. They're usually paperbacks printed on thinner paper and are thus way lighter and much more suitable for taking along in a bookbag or holding in your hands while reading. Also, significantly cheaper. In my experience, the content has been identical except for the color printing.
posted by halogen at 9:55 AM on August 4, 2011


Usually everything about the book is the same, including the page numbers. For the course I'm teaching currently, though, the international edition was re-typeset; it's kind of annoying because I can't refer to "the formula on page X" but since I know this I always make sure to give section numbers.

You're a very nice person. My response to "I have a different edition and the page numbers /section numbers /problem numbers don't match," is "That's why you should have bought the edition I adopted for this course. They are available at the college bookstore for your convenience."
posted by BrashTech at 10:36 AM on August 4, 2011


When I bought international versions of chemistry and chemical engineering textbooks, they were identical except that the problem sets in the international version frequently used metric or SI units where the American version used pounds, feet, etc. Thus the final answers to the problems would be equivalent but expressed in different units, which may cause some confusion for whoever is grading your work.

You'll have to decide whether you want to take the chance of having points marked off for having a different answer and/or having to go argue your case with the prof or TA. Alternatively you can just consult another copy of the book (at the library, bookstore, or from a friend) when it comes to doing the problems.
posted by ctab at 11:11 AM on August 4, 2011


For whatever reason, when I've bought international editions, I've always ended up with the South Asian edition, not the Chinese edition. (This is the reverse of most people I know, who boggle at my South Asian versions.) The only noticeable differences are that the paper is of poorer quality and any colour is in black and white. Chinese editions do sometimes have the chapter and section headings in Chinese. (I think this varies with publisher.)

A quick google should tell you if there are unit differences. Your question got me wondering why my students never have international editions. Googling 'stewart calculus international edition' reveals that there is a version using only metric. (It baffles me why they insist on imperial/US units for some problems in the US edition. It does let me tell my students what a slug is, though.)
posted by hoyland at 11:48 AM on August 4, 2011


You're a very nice person. My response to "I have a different edition and the page numbers /section numbers /problem numbers don't match," is "That's why you should have bought the edition I adopted for this course. They are available at the college bookstore for your convenience."

In this case everything about the editions is the same, except that they changed the font so the page numbers don't line up. Also, this book is ridiculously expensive so I am sympathetic to people trying to save money. (It's the book we usually use for this course, and it's a course I've never taught before so I was reluctant to try to find a different one.) And really, quoting things in terms of section numbers is no harder for me than quoting in terms of page numbers.

I would not be sympathetic to the student who was trying to use an older edition of the book (the text in question is in its third edition) that had different problems, and said as much on the first day of class.
posted by madcaptenor at 12:35 PM on August 4, 2011


For posterity:

The international edition is perfectly fine. My professor didn't mind at all and the units are the same than the American edition.
posted by Marduk at 6:59 PM on August 29, 2011


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