My question is similar to this - Rude to ask a book chapter. I have bought the first of two parts of a research monograph. The second part is even more expensive (around $150) and in my currency it is prohibitively expensive. I do not know the professor and he does not know me either. On the other hand it is possible we may collaborate in the future as we are in the same field. Is it appropriate to send him an email and ask him for a discount on his book? Would it harm a professional relationship later on in my career?
Authors usually don't and cannot sell directly copies of their books, and the price is decided by the publisher.
Of course, an author has their draft copy in electronic format, but they might not even have the final electronic version as published. Authors typically receive a few courtesy copies of their books, but they have no access to other copies for free.
My suggestion however is to borrow the book from your university library: that's what library are for, after all.
If the library doesn't have a copy, depending on your position, you can:
- Suggest the library to buy a copy. Many university libraries buy books according to the suggestions of their faculties: if you cannot do this directly, probably your adviser can.
- Ask your library if they can loan it from another library. In many countries there is a system of interlibrary loans, and sometimes it works even across different countries.
I don't think it is rude to ask for the preprint of the book. In fact, many authors publish the preprint for books on arxiv(I can give examples of this). However, the rudeness depends on the culture and has many dependencies. Finally, you can use Libgen for downloading/uploading books, and many authors put their book also here, although they would not admit it.
I was in same situation and found that the author was on research gate. I message him about my financial constraints and politely asked for favor to which he replied with the copy of whole book.
I think you can also ask him, as they are well aware of student problems and might help you out. In case of refusal thank him and understand his position.
As Massimo Ortolano said, authors don't directly decide the prices on their books. The publisher does, and authors have no direct control over that price (it's possible an author can negotiate the price before signing the contract, however).
That said, you can ask the professor anyway to help you acquire a (relatively) cheap copy of the book. Here're some ways he can do it:
- He could give you an earlier version. Depending on how much earlier it is, the text could be largely the same. The danger of this is that, the preprint probably won't be in printed form, and if he gives you an electronic copy then he could also damage sales of his book. Specifically asking for this could put him in a difficult spot.
- He could have some free copies left behind. Book contracts I've seen typically say the publisher will provide the author some complimentary copies of the book after it's been published. These could range from a few (~5) to a lot (~20). It's possible the professor has some left over.
- There's also a good chance that the professor will have donated some of his complimentary copies to your university's library, or your university's library will already have purchased some copies of the book (it's written by one of their academics; naturally they will buy). You can check with them.
- Finally, the professor could purchase some copies of it for cheap. Again, book contracts I've seen typically say that if you author a book for the publisher, you get to purchase both further copies of your own book as well as other books in the publisher's collection for a substantial discount (~30%).