It's a common practice on many college campuses for professors to receive review copies of textbooks from publishers who want them to consider using the books in a class they teach. Sometimes they are marked "for examination and not for resale," sometimes not. Such copies pile up quickly. There are also armies of used-book buyers who regularly approach professors in person about buying any surplus textbooks they might have.
If a textbook came unsolicited from the publisher, is it OK for a professor to make some pocket change by selling the review copy? Or should he or she discard it or keep it for personal use, but not resell it? Does it make a difference if the book is stamped with a no-resale message?
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Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, a Web log focused on ethical issues.
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