Learn what to look for when inspecting textbooks and how to distinguish a legitimate from a counterfeit.

    General Strategies for Identifying Counterfeit Textbooks

  • 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

    1. Dimensions


    2. Cover

      Cover Stock
      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.
      Barcode Label
      Spine – Clarity, Proportions, Color, Fonts

    3. Text Paper

      Opacity – Degree of Show Through
      Feel – Does paper feel rougher/smoother than legitimate copy?

    4. Text Printing

      Ink – Density, Color
      Images – Halftones, Photos, Screens, Tints
      Alignment – Bleeds, Margins, Alignment
      Clarity – Does printing appear grainy, dark, or blurry?

    5. Binding

      Appearance – Spine, Formation
      Headband – Color(s) and/or Material Used
      Scoring – Cover Hinge Scoring
      Adhesive – Color of Glue, Appearance

    6. Endsheets/Inserts

      Clarity and Succinctness

    7. Miscellaneous

      Missing Pages
      Incorrect ISBN
      Different/Inconsistent Pagination, especially in front or rear materials.