May I Have a Desk(less) Copy, Please?


by Kelly O’Connor-Salomon

Working entirely from home has required several adjustments, but a new one rose to the surface last week. I am fortunate to have three classes lined up for the Fall already, but one of them is a class I have not taught for some time, and I have no idea what I plan to use for a text. It is an Introduction to Literature class, so, as much as I am typically not a fan, I have decided to go the anthology route.

So, I hop online and go to the publishers I happen to have the websites memorized for: McGraw-Hill, Bedford/St. Martin’s, Pearson, and Norton. I start perusing texts–then it hits me. I can’t order a desk copy without a school address. Now, I could have them sent to the school I will be teaching for–even though I have never taught there before, I am sure the Chair would help me out. Quite honestly, however, that is a pain. I’d have to make a special trip over there, and that takes gas for the car and making myself presentable for the public. Not to mention the usual college parking craziness when I get there. And if there is one thing I have learned about myself as I explore being unemployed, it’s that I don’t want to go out unless there is a pressing need to do so–especially in upstate New York in February.

Luckily, my husband is also a professor, so I can just e-mail him the ISBNs and have him get the books for me. They even get hand delivered to me that way! But there have to be many adjuncts who aren’t so connected. And as more and more part-time faculty teach online and may never go to a campus at all, I have to hope that publishers will begin to relax those pesky rules about not sending desk copies to a home address.

While it is possible to get books sent home, in my experience it tends to involve a personal rapport with a rep, and they often will only do it when campuses are closed, like over Winter Break. Regardless, you have to justify the home mailing. I understand that publishers have to cover themselves, but there have to be fairly easy ways of proving one is, or is going to be, at a school and due the free copy that is being asked for. Like with many other things, they need to adapt to the changing world.

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