Learn what to look for when inspecting textbooks and how to distinguish a legitimate from a counterfeit.
- Compare the book to a copy from the publisher for a “side-by-side” comparison.
Variations between a legitimate exemplar and a counterfeit may be slight and difficult to detect. Ideally, the legitimate exemplar should be from the same printing as the suspected counterfeit for comparison.
For instructions on identifying the print run of a particular book, see
Identifying a Book’s Print Run
- Consider the totality of the circumstances.
Besides conducting a “side-by-side” comparison, other factors to keep in mind include the source, price, condition, quantity offered, and online feedback.
For a more comprehensive overview of best practices, see
Avoiding Counterfeit Books
- Components useful in a side-by-side comparison
When examining a suspected counterfeit textbook, consider the traits of each book. Variations in any of these traits between a suspected counterfeit and a legitimate exemplar may confirm or be supportive of the piratical nature of the suspected counterfeit.
Some counterfeit books may only have one or two traits that demonstrate its counterfeit nature, while others may have more. Traits to compare include the following list.
For help in identifying such traits, see
Common Textbook Manufacturing Terms
Cover Images and Copy – Clarity, Proportions, Color Saturation, Fonts, Back Cover Copy
Specialty Finishing – Embossed/Raised Text and Images, Gloss/Matte, UV Varnish, Foil Stamping, etc.
Spine – Clarity, Proportions, Color, Fonts
- Text Paper
Opacity – Degree of Show Through
Feel – Does paper feel rougher/smoother than legitimate copy?
- Text Printing
Ink – Density, Color
Images – Halftones, Photos, Screens, Tints
Alignment – Bleeds, Margins, Alignment
Clarity – Does printing appear grainy, dark, or blurry?
Appearance – Spine, Formation
Headband – Color(s) and/or Material Used
Scoring – Cover Hinge Scoring
Adhesive – Color of Glue, Appearance
Clarity and Succinctness
Different/Inconsistent Pagination, especially in front or rear materials.