Is there a way that I can find the ranking of textbooks by popularity used in a specific course, say Linear Algebra. Here the ranking based on either

  1. the number of students using the book (as the main textbook)


  1. the number of institutions using the book (as the main textbook)

or both will be a useful resource in choosing a textbook of the course.

  • 5
    Why would that be important to know? It seems like a very poor metric for choosing a book for your own course.
    – Buffy
    Aug 27, 2019 at 19:02
  • 2
    Are you aware that the concept of "main textbook" for a course is not so universal? Aug 27, 2019 at 19:43
  • @MassimoOrtolano you are right. Still I am interested in see which books are the more "popular" ones.
    – Zuriel
    Aug 27, 2019 at 20:01
  • @Buffy, you are right. I am just curious which book other people are using and how "unpopular" my choice of the textbook is.
    – Zuriel
    Aug 27, 2019 at 20:58
  • 5
    I think this is a potentially very useful question. A lot of newly minted phds in the US get jobs in teaching intensive depts and are immediately asked to teach courses they've never taught before. Under normal circumstances I'd advise such a person to ask their dept colleagues for textbook prefs. But what if these suggestions leave the new PhD unsatisfied? Having a list indicating which textbooks are assigned most often for certain courses could be very useful for such a person. Especially if they lack a large network of colleagues at peer institutions they feel comfortable contacting.
    – user109454
    Aug 27, 2019 at 23:57

1 Answer 1


This question is interesting, unfortunately the question is also too broad. (Course of an specific school or just the subject? By country or which country? At university, MBA or Doctorate level?, etc). But the way to find a possible ranking would be to see best selling books per topic. For example:

There you can add filters per subject, which do can do also with many other bookselling sites. This however will give you best sellers per subject/topic in wide.

But you could also search for the program's syllabus and the books are listed there. If it's for your current school and the school sells books, just go ask for their most sold books for your research.

However consider that:

  1. A textbook used is not necessarily the one suggested to be bought.
  2. Rather than textbooks, students can use online materials instead.
  3. In some countries, teachers force students to buy certain books and certain editions (which they receive some revenue from).
  4. Popular for teachers is not necessarily popular for students.
  5. Piracy always adds a level of error int he estimations.

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