I've published a book based on my thesis with a reputable academic publisher. It turns out that I have to provide 2 more books to my university than I originally thought - they say for archival purpose (this info about 2 more copies is not visible on the university website, but I have to comply anyway to get my PhD certificate).

Anyway, based on the contract, I only received 5 complimentary copies from the publisher, so I have to buy 2 more to give them to the university. I wouldn't even get an extra one for myself. This book is naturally very, very expensive - 2 would cost the half of my monthly rent.

Would it be a bad form to ask for 2 extra complimentary copies from the publisher for just this once, explaining the situation? Would it be worth a shot, or would it just make me look stingy? Thanks for your two cents.

4 Answers 4


You can ask. It isn't bad form. You are being abused, actually. But, an explanation would probably help.

I'll also note that many publishers will provide authors copies "at cost" rather than at retail prices. The printing cost of a book is pretty minimal, actually.


You can certainly ask. However, check with your university first. In my experience, university rules require special formatting that your publisher will not provide.

A third-party printer may be quite cheap.

Also, requiring paper copies is quite old-fashioned.


In general complimentary copies are one of the easiest things for the publisher to increase when negotiating a contract. If you request more copies, chances are good it'll be granted.

However, your case is different since the contract is signed and the book is printed. You can still ask, but they are no longer as incentivized to agree. They might agree anyway if they want to stay in your good books for future projects, especially since there's a good chance they'll have spare copies lying around. But you might be asked to pay the shipping fee.


First off, it's not bad form. You're already giving them basically free labor in the form of the book at ridiculously low rates of compensation (effectively free, though I feel the need to acknowledge that you are entitled to royalties, even if they are usually negligible).

Second, you might check with your university about whether the published book is what they want versus your dissertation (usually somewhat different). It may be that they only need you to go to a printing house that would print and bind your dissertation for like 50 bucks (or maybe less depending on binding format required).

  • I will check with the university. It's true that the diss. is somewhat different after undergoing lots of rewriting. Thanks for the tips.
    – Evangeline
    Oct 4, 2023 at 16:06

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