Know some of the warning signs and ways to avoid unwittingly purchasing counterfeit textbooks.

  • Know from whom you are buying.

    Make sure to purchase from sellers who operate in compliance with the law.

    Make sure to ask the supplier enough questions to be comfortable that it obtained its inventory lawfully, and that the inventory is not counterfeit.

    If a seller will not provide a complete name, business name, and address, caution is required.

  • Know what you are buying.

    With the advent of new technologies, counterfeits can be high quality. On physical examination, it may be difficult to determine if a book is counterfeit without having a legitimate copy of the same book in order to do a comparison.

    Signs that a book may be counterfeit can include missing pages, different paper, blurred photographs, blurred or scored/creased covers, different headbands, different trim size and bulk, and inferior binding.

    Books in brand new, mint condition but marketed as “used” or “like new” is another red-flag that a book may be counterfeit. The “used” and “like new” descriptions are often used to justify a below-market price.

    If the ISBN on the rear cover of the book does not match the ISBN on the inside copyright page of the book, that is another sign that a book may be counterfeit.

  • “Statements of authenticity” are not a cure-all.

    Companies and individuals who sell counterfeit books frequently claim that the books are authentic when they are not. Bare assertions of legitimacy should not override common-sense and other warning-signs.

  • When buying on the Internet, read the feedback.

    Feedback many times provides useful insight towards what is really being offered for sale. Disgruntled purchasers will sometimes leave telling comments.

    Sellers of counterfeit books often bolster their own feedback scores with high reviews, so it may be necessary to scroll through multiple pages of feedback to find more telling reviews.

  • Identify and monitor suspicious patterns in customer activity.

    Most book buying operations have limits set within their systems to control the number of books or dollar amounts of any single purchase. People dealing in counterfeit textbooks want to stay under the radar and will often offer only a modest quantity of a title for sale in one transaction. However, the seller will often come back to you, offering low quantities of more counterfeit copies of that same title. Most of the time they know what limits are in place and will fly just below them.

  • Ask the publisher.

    Publishers want to rid the marketplace of counterfeits as much as you want to avoid them.

    When you are not sure if a book is authentic, ask the publisher to inspect your book. If you become aware of counterfeit books in the marketplace, immediately contact the publisher.

  • Maintain records.

    Once you have identified a supplier as having provided counterfeit books, maintain records of that supplier’s name(s) and other contact information in order to avoid inadvertently purchasing counterfeit books from that same supplier again.

    Once you learn there are counterfeit copies of a particular title, exercise extra caution when buying those titles.

  • Don’t enable counterfeit suppliers.

    If you receive and identify a counterfeit textbook from a third-party supplier, do not return the textbook back to the supplier. Turn over that counterfeit and the name of the supplier, along with any paperwork you have on the purchase, to the publisher.