On Counterfeit Textbooks

How to spot a counterfeit textbook?

Counterfeit textbooks have to be distinguished from international or Eastern Economy editions. Unlike the latter, they are produced illegally, and students sometimes tend to buy them on various marketplaces from third-party sellers because of lower prices (such books are often shipped from China, India, etc.) Afterwards, they may want to sell these books to buyback websites like BooksRun, and we do not accept them for obvious reasons.

In order to help our customers (and everyone who’s interested) spot the counterfeit textbooks and not fall into the trap we are posting this list of differences between genuine and illegal editions that need to be paid attention to.

1) Binding. It differs from the one of the authentic textbook. The glue can be of a different color and unevenly distributed along the binding, and the book may generally look poorly made. Books with bindings for which cheap glue was used also smell different than an original quality edition. Curvature of the spine can also be different, i.e. too flat or bent.

Examples of counterfeit book binding:

2) Pages and paper. In some cases, pages are thinner than they are supposed to be, and text from the next page is showing through. Original editions often have glossy paper, and counterfeits have cheaper plain paper.

Example #1: page of a counterfeit book has different color shade:

Example #2: paper of the counterfeit book is plain instead of original glossy:

3) Width. Counterfeit textbooks often do not have the same width as the authentic ones, as illegal producers aim to use less paper. 

Example #1: counterfeit book on the right looks smaller:

 Example #2: counterfeit book on the right is narrower:

4) Thickness. Also, counterfeit books are sometimes thicker or thinner due to bad quality of the pages (see the example below). 

Example #1: the counterfeit item is thinner:

Example #2: the counterfeit item is thicker:

5) Quality. The cover art is often of a lower quality as well, the name of the author and the title are not vertically centered on the binding, and the writing may be a bit unclear or pixelated. Illustrations inside counterfeit books may be black-and-white or are somewhat bleak and look fuzzy.

Example #1: side-by-side comparison of an original and a counterfeit. The item on the right has different color tone: 

Example #2: counterfeit item on the right has different color tone and is narrower:

6) Letters. Pay attention to the quality of the print as in cases of counterfeit the pages often look cheaper and generally worse.

Example: letters on the page of the counterfeit book are thicker and not as fine as original: 

7) ISBN. If the book differs too much from other original editions but the ISBN is the same and there are no other markings indicating it is an international or instructor’s version, it’s definitely a counterfeit copy.

8) Barcode. In case you don't have any original copy to compare a counterfeit book with, you may take a look at the barcode printed on the backside of the book. It may look slightly fuzzy like a photocopy, offset or even colored a bit (barcodes are usually black-and-white).

9) Flyleaves. Counterfeit books might not include them. Copyright page can also be absent.

10) Headbands may be frayed or have a different pattern or color.

11) Typos. Books are scanned, and their content is copied by a special software. However, it sometimes makes mistakes and creates various typos. On the picture below, fake copy on top has two errors that might serve as an indicator of the book being counterfeit.

Now you know the differences between fake and real textbooks, so feel free to share this information with your friends to help them avoid the scammers. You can also find the list of the titles that are very frequent subject of counterfeiting here.

BooksRun is buying back and selling only legal editions of textbooks – visit our website and learn which books are accepted for buyback and why textbooks from the bookstores are so expensive.

July 13th, 2017