Tuesday, October 03, 2006


So here's another question (dang, you guys are better than a Magic Eight Ball!). As I proceed along the paths of academia, I keep finding myself in new territory for which I am wholly unprepared. There seem to be unwritten Codes of Conduct for all sorts of academic situations, and I figure them out as I go along, but geez, I wish someone would write these all out in a nifty book.

The latest issue: when you publish a book, and your publisher sends you a handful of free copies, to whom should you give copies? I know some of this is a matter of personal choice, in regards to friends and family. But are there standard recipients in one's academic hierarchy?

It's obvious to me that I should give a copy to my graduate adviser, because this book is an offshoot of my dissertation project, and I am deeply grateful to her for her guidance and support. But I was discussing this question with a friend of mine who has also recently published her first book, and she was told by a colleague that she should give a copy to the dean, in a tone that suggested duh, everybody knows you give a copy to your dean! My dean is awesome, but it hadn't crossed my mind to give her a copy of my book. Now I'm wondering what else isn't crossing my mind? My provost was unusually supportive during a moment of tenure-related crisis; I would rather like to give him a copy as a sign of my gratitude as well. But if I give copies to those two, should I also give one to my department chair, who is a very nice person but who was minimally involved in my tenure decision, and probably could care less? Should I give a copy to a colleague at my previous place of employment, who gave me a copy of his book when it was published? I'd like to do so as a gesture that I still value him as a friend and colleague, but I'm also a little concerned that it would look too snooty. Previous place of employment was a small teaching-oriented liberal arts college, which I left in part because it gave virtually no support for research, and I don't want it to look like I'm saying "Hey, it took you over twenty years to publish your first book, but here I did mine in four!"

Okay, now I'm just getting into psychological games. The real question is this: are there standard people to whom one conventionally gives copies of one's first book? Please keep in mind that my book was published by a press that only publishes in hardback and slaps a hefty price tag on its books; I have six free copies, but can't easily afford to invest in more. Where should they go?