What's the best way to define a color for manufacturing?

I'm designing a product and i want to specify the exact color that will be printed on it. My little bit of knowledge tells me Pantone and or CMYK values are used for this. What's the best way to determine those? Ebay has pantone and CMYK books ranging from $30 to $300. I know i cant just pick and color and print it out at home to check because my printer may not be calibrated correctly (right?). So whats the best way to do this? Does it matter whether it's pantone or CMYK?

Thanks!

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