I found out today that the department in which I am a graduate student is no longer providing gratis copies of the books required for the classes for which grad students TA. We don't have to buy our own copies, but we do have to turn in the copies given to us at the end of the term. The reason given was that publishers are refusing to provide desk copies each term, especially if the same text was used last term or even last year.
I suppose I shouldn't complain about not getting free books since I am not entitled to the books. But at the same time, it seems that if publishers have a policy of distributing a certain number of desk copies per number of students enrolled in the class, then the publishers should fulfill that promise. It's another question of whether the department should pass on the books to the TAs. I suppose it doesn't have to. However, I am dreading the state of affairs that will probably be realized in a few terms when I am given TA copies that have underlining and notes in pen, indiscriminate highlighting, and (gasp!) broken spines.
When I think about it, I'm glad that the only thing I really have to complain about is not getting free books. I have a beautiful wife, a nice place to live, employment, time to read Plato, freedom of religion, etc., etc.