How Much of that New Textbook is Really New? RayGun Can Tell You

One of the most common gripes among college students is that textbooks cost too much. Another common compliant is that publishers change the editions too fast, and that cuts down on the resale value.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could use one of the very cheap older editions in your class? Thanks to a new site called RayGun Reports, now you can.

This site, which I wish had been available when I was in school, helps students reduce their textbook expense. They sell Clone Reports – a $15 doc that summarizes the differences between the new and old editions of a textbook. The reports identify which textbook have been updated with little value compared to the potentially cheaper previous edition.

You might need to be an active student to have noticed, but I can recall from my own days that virtually every site which sold textbooks usually listed the previous editions. For every $150 textbook there is usually a previous edition available, and you can almost always find it for under $10. Sometimes the price gets even cheaper, especially for the Bio, Chem, and other 101 classes that millions of college freshman take every year.

And now with Clone Reports students can buy that older cheaper edition and potentially save quite a few dollars. The name of the reports is something of a joke; it stands for Content Lacking Originality in New Editions. Each report contains details on the changes made to the text, images, and self-test or problem sections, and it also includes a Rayscore which gives a specific percentage to how much content is the same between any 2 editions.

Raygun currently has a number of reports ready to buy, and you can download them in PDF format. If they don’t have the title you need you can request it.

via Springwise

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. namekuseijin14 September, 2012

    bunch of greedy cocksuxers

    certainly arithmetic, trigonometry, biology, grammar and others haven’t changed much in the few past decades. History and geography I can understand…

    1. Peter14 September, 2012

      Yeah, science and math never change.

      The Higgs-whasson particle? That sounds like a scam to sell textbooks.

      1. DavidW15 September, 2012

        The Higgs boson is taught in graduate level courses. It doesn’t impact freshman physics. And you can learn in detail about the Higgs from Lisa Randall’s book which costs a whopping $3 on the kindle.

        1. Aaron - Raygun17 September, 2012

          That’s exactly right DavidW. Also, in the off-chance that an entry level physics book added a section on the ground-breaking discovery of the Higgs Boson particle, then the C.L.O.N.E. Report would note the added section and direct students to relevant educational material on the subject so that they won’t miss a beat.

          Lastly, Higgs Boson is a great example of a time when a textbook actually merits an updated section. The problem is that those types of discoveries do not occur as frequently as new editions are published (on average, every 2 to 3 years).

  2. Peter14 September, 2012

    This sounds like a good idea, but $15/ report, really?

    Unless the report actually includes the full verbatim update, that’s more overpriced than the textbooks themselves.

    1. Aaron - Raygun17 September, 2012

      Hello Peter, we appreciate you taking the time to comment. Unfortunately, the C.L.O.N.E. Reports cannot contain verbatim updates due to copyright laws. However, they do contain a in-depth analysis of each textbook broken down by subheader. In general, a C.L.O.N.E. Report contains about 70 pages of analysis. Our most substantial Report is for Campbell Biology (the #1 textbook in the country). That beauty clocks in at 187 pages (it’s a whopping 56 chapters). Further, a new edition of Campbell Biology (9th) from Amazon currently costs $167.88. A student can buy a used 8th edition for $35.60. Given the cost savings of over $100 (after factoring in the cost of the book and the Report) and the level of detail that is incorporated into the C.L.O.N.E. Reports, we believe the $15 tag is really fair. Our goal is to help students save money and avoid being hit with unnecessary costs in an already over-inflated system that sees students as a bottomless resource of disposable income.

      I am happy to send you a sample C.L.O.N.E. Report so you can see for yourself. Just let me know. Thanks.


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