This question especially affects (law) books for which a new edition is published every 2 or 3 years. Assume that:

  1. the authors didn't detail or record the changes between the older and newest edition.

  2. Rereading the older and newest editions is already time-consuming. Comparing page-by-page is too inefficient and untrustworthy (your eyes might easily miss something).

  3. Both editions may not exist in a computerised format and be searched on a computer.

  • 1
    How many new books are involved? How many pages in each? Would it not be better to just read/review the latest edition? Maybe there's a lucrative business opportunity providing such information if no "book buddy" now exists. – Stan May 22 '18 at 15:42

The easiest way would be to contact the authors.

  • Or the publisher – Stan May 22 '18 at 14:46

You said that comparing page-by-page is too inefficient and untrustworthy. However, you don't need to read every word. You can just compare the first 2-3 words of each paragraph, as well as the number of lines of each paragraph.

If I were doing this, I wouldn't read the new information immediately. I would highlight it and continue comparing the beginning of the next paragraph and the number of lines in it. After finishing the whole chapter, or the whole book, I would then go back and read the highlighted chapters.

To cut the task in half, you and a friend / colleague can each tackle half of the book.


(UPD. Disregard the first paragraph - haven't read a single old-fashioned paper book in the last decade, I missed the fact that they are printed on both sides of the pages. Looking through 4 overlaying texts at once would probably turn them into an unintelligible mess. The idea with a book scanner may still work, though...)

If those books have strict and unchanging requirements about fonts, margins size etc., and if the content doesn't change much between editions, would it be possible to compare by overlaying corresponding pages on top of a glass panel with a lamp underneath? Sort of similar to how animated movies were drawn before the computers, but in reverse? You would notice immediately if the pages are identical. If there's a change in the middle of one of the pages, you would also see it. Of course, then the rest of that page (or even chapter) wouldn't match, even for identical texts, but you might be able to shift one of the pages to align the next paragraphs and continue.

If the idea works, you may try a more technologically advanced variation of it using a book scanner (not necessarily that model; then you compare two semi-transparent page images on your computer screen instead, may be able to automate that some more, e. g. cut out paragraphs, highlight significant differences, etc.). If it doesn't, then maybe add some sort of OCR into the process?

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