As a student I often look on Ebay for books as it is often a cheaper alternative than buying books new from the uni bookshop or similar. (Of course there are nearly always second-hand student-run bookshops at unis and sometimes you can buy and sell books directly with other students by way of intranet forums, etc - but this review will focus on buying books from Ebay).
The two main things I consider when looking at an academic book listing are:
1 - What edition/year is it?
This is especially important for fast-moving fields such as stem cell biology or taxonomy, etc. If it is more than 5 years old consider if it will actually contain the correct/current information.
2 - What do others say about this book?
Is it easy to understand? What topics/chapters does it cover? Are the authors well-known or authoritative in their field? Don't always take the buyer's word, they want to sell their book so it makes sense for them to say good things about it. An easy way to find out is to Google the title and look for reviews.
- How much are you saving (accounting for postage too) and are you making any concessions? Are those concessions worth it?
- Is this an overseas or international version?
- If considering this book as a substitute for a recommended book for a class, make sure it covers the same content and perhaps check with your lecturer/professor.
- Will you actually read it!?
Buying Medical and Scientific Books
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3 June 2011
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