[Ed: An anonymous reader from the publishing industry wrote in with the following. I have every reason to believe it's true -Cory]
Update: An agent writes in to say: "Penguin ALSO doesn't want to give agents the hi-res final jacket image without charging. We can often beg/loophole/cajole — but the official party line is they are supposed to charge $300. (???!) Mind you, this could pretty much ONLY be used to promote the book. We like to put the book jacket on our agency website, in our agency catalogues for foreign book fairs, make postcards, etc… but obviously we can't authorize any other territory to use this image.
So essentially they are saying they don't want us to create promo material on the book's behalf, even on our own dime."
There's something going on at Penguin (interesting to see if it
changes now that it's Penguin Random House, though all signs point no)
that's so stupid and old school and against all authors that I thought
In every contract in publishing, there's language (as you know) that
gives an author a certain number of copies of the book, on publication.
When ebooks came to play, agents began trying to negotiate for an
electronic version of the book too, oftentimes successful. What
they /can't/ get from Penguin (and a few other publishers, though
notably Penguin) is a final PDF or even a final word doc of the book.
Agents are told that Penguin puts work into the layout, edit and design
and so agents can't just give that work away to foreign countries for
them to use in their editions. That work must be paid for. I semi-buy
that argument, though it makes me think two things: 1) Shame on them for
getting in the way (as they do sometimes) of a foreign deal and 2)
Penguin is contractually obligated to create the book anyway, with all
of those pieces.