Sale of Examination Copies of Textbooks
This is the season when our faculty and staff tend to receive emails from book buyers offering to purchase textbooks and instructor’s editions. If you receive such an email, please take the time to forward it to email@example.com so that IT has the data needed to attempt blocking as many of these messages as possible before ever filling our inboxes.
As you know, per Kansas law, no state employee may personally accept a special discount, service, gift or any other economic opportunity having an aggregate value of $40 or more when the purpose of the donation is to influence the state employee in the performance of official duties. However, such items or benefits may be accepted on behalf of the state of Kansas. The items or benefits become state property upon acceptance. Specifically, the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission opined that faculty may accept examination copies of textbooks valued at $40 or more “on behalf of the state and have them become state property.” See https://www.kansas.gov/ethicsopinion/opinion/view/1005.
Thus, if you receive free books from publishers, you may retain and use them as state property. Unless the book is valued at more than $500, there is no requirement that it be entered into the inventory of state property.
The ethics opinion makes clear that you become a custodian of state property rather than owner of the book. Thus, you are not free to sell or give away the book, as doing so would constitute selling or giving away state property. Additionally, if you leave the employ of the State of Kansas, you are not free to take examination copies with you. The proper way to dispose of examination copies is to box them and leave them in your office when you are preparing to move. The boxes should be labeled, “Deliver to Collection Development, Watson Library.” Library staff will retain the books for the collection or dispose of them through an accepted method.
This information is also available in the KU Policy Library at https://policy.ku.edu/chancellor/exam-textbook-copies.
Interim Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs
Earl B. Shurtz Professor of Law
University of Kansas