Textbook Cross-reference for different editions
June 29, 2013 11:45 AM   Subscribe

Is there some place I can find cross-reference guides to match up material and problem sets between different editions of the same textbook (specifically math textbooks) ?

Someone gave me a copy of the 6th edition of Stewart's Calculus: Early Transcendentals. I'm going to use it to study ahead and hopefully start taking Calculus soon. I've done this for other math classes and found it to be a good method for me. When I take Calculus they will be using the 7th edition (I already checked). I would like to avoid having to buy an expensive textbook when I have a copy that I assume is quite similar but probably with stuff just moved around.

I've wished for this before with other math textbooks too, and thought it was finally time to ask for help with this.

Note: Please don't steer me to renting textbooks or places that sell textbooks cheaply. I already know about these. This question is solely about how to match up material between different editions.

posted by marsha56 to Education (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hopefully you'll get a better answer than this.

Have you already looked at the online material for the book, which is usually available via the publisher's or author's web site? Usually there will be at least a high-level guide to the differences between editions. I've found that the online companion sites for textbooks can be hit-or-miss in terms of not only the amount of content, but the accuracy. !!!

The instructor of the course probably already has some kind of a listing provided to them by the publisher, although some publishers are better than others in providing details. You could try contacting the instructor (if you know who it is), or the chairman of the department (who will probably pass your question off to one of the usual instructors for that course.)

You should also be able to get a copy of the syllabus for the course ahead of time, which will help guide your study.

And here's a secret I probably shouldn't tell you out loud: When [some|many] college courses change editions, it's not [often|usually] because the content of the course is changing all that much. It's [often|sometimes] due to pressure from the campus bookstore, and/or the publisher rep happened to stop by with donuts on the day textbooks were decided on. In other words, it doesn't matter what edition you have.

Good luck! I love it when my students get an early start.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 12:39 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do you live nearby a bookstore that has the 7th edition in stock? You could try bring your 6th edition and randomly compare pages.

I did this for a different math text book. Much to my glee and my classmates dismay, the only difference was the photo on the cover of the book and a few explanations were reworded. The actual math problems themselves were identical.
posted by JujuB at 1:04 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

There's no good substitute for getting your hands on a copy to compare. The textbook industry is changing editions to make more money, so they aren't going to make it easy for you. How else would James Stewart be able to build this house?

What *a friend* did in a similar situation, was to use the old edition, but "got" the problems from the textbook on reserve in the library. Said *friend* says that there was no good way to match up the problems between editions. Said *friend* knew before classes started that matching editions wasn't going to work after previewing the most recent edition on Amazon.
posted by oceano at 1:45 PM on June 29, 2013 [3 favorites]

Oceano, I took your advice and checked out the Amazon preview and it looks like you're right. From the "What's New in the 7th Edition" list of changes, "More than 25% of the exercises in each chapter are new".

Uggh, just what I was hoping not to hear. I can get the additional problems from a reserve copy at the library. But I was hoping to get a single intact textbook with everything I needed. Bummer.

Thanks everyone for your help and suggestions.
posted by marsha56 at 6:54 PM on June 29, 2013

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