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A mini twitter rant I thought was worth re-posting here.

Defiantly worth reposting

um no. if i own the book but i cant find it im gonna read a pirated copy online. if i dont want to support the author (im looking at you orson scott card) but i still want to read the book i will pirate it.

Um, no. If I can’t locate the physical copy of a book I own and want to read it immediately, I am not entitled to STEAL a digital copy. I go find the physical book, or dig it out of storage, or wait for my friend who borrowed it to return it, etc, etc. There are books I own in print and ebook form for this very reason. Just because you paid for one copy of a book does not mean you get a second for free.

When you read a pirated book in any capacity, you are supporting piracy. You are telling the people running the site, “I support what you do, I think it’s okay to steal from authors, keep running this site and others like it.” It’s simple supply and demand. If no one downloaded illegal copies, these sites would not exist. People say ‘vote with your dollar.’ Well in this case, vote by not clicking.

Lastly, it is 100% your right to not support any author (or artist) you choose. But doing so through illegal channels defeats the entire purpose of making a statement. Go to the library and read OSC if you don’t want him to get another royalty from you buying his book. That library copy was purchased by legal means and can be read over and over without him earning another dime. Better yet, don’t read him PERIOD. That’s real follow-through. And then when someone asks you what you thought of Ender’s Game, for example, you have a wonderful chance to stand on your soapbox and explain that the book sounded awesome but you didn’t read it because you’re not supporting the author for REASONS.

I understand your points and how you are trying to justify your situation, but that’s exactly what they are—your justifications to steal anyway. Authors get paid royalties only twice a year, and many work a second job to get by. Every sale counts, and if you want more books written in the future, buy and read legal copies.

oh the illegal ebook debate. look, i get that writers need money. i get that they don’t get paid well. and i get that stealing is wrong. but in today’s economy, the average reader (especially young ones) doesn’t have the money to buy books or the time to go to the library. speaking from a student perspective, it isn’t a good idea to spend $10-20 on a book that you MIGHT like. because if you hate it, you’re stuck with it. you can take it to half price and get a little of your money back or you can donate it. you can’t give it to a friend because why would you give your friend a bad book? Personally, I love buying physical books but that’s only when I have the money to do so. If I’m broke, I will read ebooks and if I like them, I’ll buy physical copies when I get the money. If I don’t like it, why would I give someone money for writing something that I don’t like? Yes I could read a sample but that’s only a few chapters. A lot of books are good at first then get bad (like Twilight). So reading a sample isn’t going to help anything. Since I’m broke most of the time, if I read and review a book, I leave links for my followers to get the book. If I like it, I talk about it a lot. Just because I read a free version doesn’t mean everyone else will. Some people hate ebooks or they just like having their own copy. So even if I read it for free, the people I expose to the book/series will make up for it until I buy the physical copy. And then there are rare books. For example, the Graceling trilogy. The covers I want are only available in the UK and I wanted to read them physically. But since I’m American and would have to buy the ugly covers, I got tired of waiting and just downloaded the ebooks because I wanted to know what happened in the books. I started to read Fire (book 2) but then I discovered Book Depository and saw that they had the covers I needed and I stopped reading the ebook and decided to get the physical book from there. My point is that there are many factors that play into people downloading free ebooks and I’ve only listed a few. While I do think authors have every right to be upset by it, I think they should stop and look at the other side of the problem. ebook downloading isn’t going to go away, just like music or movie downloading. you can complain and take every precaution you can to avoid your book being stolen but it’s always going to happen. I think if you don’t want to have to deal with this problem, talk to your publisher about not making ebooks in the first place. that’s the only solution I see that has any chance of working. YES we love your books. YES we want to support you. But sometimes, we can’t support you financially, so we use social media to spread the word about your book. We might not be giving you the money you need but we’re providing a link between you and a lot of people who CAN give you that money.

There are some points here (if you can’t afford to support an author financially, please do what you can to promote their work online) BUT I take issue with the excuse that younger readers don’t have TIME to go to a library. And FFS, can we stop EXCUSING this behavior with responsibility-removing statements like “well, piracy isn’t going away” and “just because *I* steal books doesn’t mean other readers will so chill out” because that’s just not all right. This is not a victimless problem. 

I’m going to stay out of the meat of the argument, since I can actually see the argument from both sides. Specifically, I want to comment on the libraries, and how telling somebody to just go get the book from the library is a laughable joke.

My experience with libraries is that the selection is highly limited, and there’s about a 1 in a million chance of them actually having the book you want. Maybe that’s just my experience, but I had it in Whittier (a suburb of Los Angeles) and the same problem in here in Carson City (the capitol of Nevada). Especially when it comes to Young Adult fiction.

Even if you check it in their system, it rarely pans out — They had two copies of The Fault in Our Stars, (one of the most popular novels in the world right now) between something like fifteen libraries. And one of the copies had been out for nearly a year. And that’s one of the more popular books. Oftentimes, if the book you want is more obscure (Gayle Forman’s Sisters in Sanity, for instance), you’re not going to find it in the library system for love or money.

And it’s not just YA fiction. I went to look for the libretto of Next to Normala Pulitzer-winning musical, and no sign of it in the library or in the system. 

Long story short, trying to play the library game is frustrating, especially when going to download a book doesn’t require dealing with others or waiting a long time. Sure, that doesn’t justify downloading stuff illegally, but let’s not pretend that go to the library is a valid option more than, oh, 30% of the time. The library’s not going to buy a book just because somebody asks for it.

I was taking issue with the idea that people don’t have TIME to go to the library—I understand the scarcity of copies, depending on the branch, can be its own frustration—BUT to answer this, I’m sorry, but my answer to those who can’t 1. buy the copy legally in some form, or 2. go to the library, is to WAIT.

I think in today’s immediate gratification society waiting has become a foreign concept, and one people seem to think garners understanding, but I’m sorry, I just don’t have sympathy for the impatience argument. 

You can also rent e-books from most libraries now and that catalogue is deeper.

Actually, most (if not all) libraries DO allow you to suggest purchases. It’s always worth asking if they’ll buy something you’re eager to read. And if you’re a student who really, truly, honestly doesn’t have time to visit the public library once or twice a month, try talking to your school librarian. The school librarians I’ve met are generally keen to help students get their hands on the materials they most want to read—and if you’re especially lucky, they might even lend you some of their own books.

Many public libraries subscribe to e-book rental services, too, so you can borrow tons of stuff without ever leaving your house. Mine has licenses to e-books and audiobooks through both Overdrive and Hoopla. If your local library doesn’t have a program like this, you can also investigate international libraries. I admittedly haven’t done much research, but I’ve heard there’s a library in Singapore that allows applications from international patrons who’d like to use their e-reserve.

Okay, but if you’re an author and you’re that pissed off about pirated ebooks, do you get that angry about used books? Because you’re also not making any money off that, so why is that acceptable? I don’t see used book buyers getting called immoral, but they’re not contributing any money to the author, editor or publisher.

And also, why do you want people to borrow it from a friend? You don’t make any money off that either, so why is that okay? I just don’t understand the logic.

I mean, really, the more people that read your book, the more people talk about your book. The more people who talk about your book, the more people buy it. (For example, I bought Malinda Lo’s Adaptation used. Lo didn’t make any money off it. But when I read it and loved it, I immediately bought the sequel new, still in hardcover. And then, I ordered in copies for the bookstore I work at and have already hand sold two. That would have been exactly the same if I downloaded the ebook—actually, that’s a lie. If I had downloaded the ebook, I would have then bought the physical book after reading it as well.)

I just don’t understand why you’d rather someone didn’t read your book at all than pirate it. I understand that you want people to buy your books, but if they don’t have the money and don’t have access to a library copy, what difference is there to the author whether they borrow it from a friends, buy a used copy, or download it? And why would you rather that they never read it all (guaranteeing they won’t talk about it and recommend it) than download it?

Let me try to explain the logic: say I create this book. I then have certain rights because—well, I made it. I then sell the right to make copies of the book to only one entity—my publisher. 

If you buy a copy, that copy was made by my publisher with my agreement: that one copy is yours to do with as you wish. Read it, give it to a library, give it to a used bookshop, sell it to someone for a million dollars saying it was autographed by a mermaid in invisible ink, seal it in a stone tomb a thousand miles under the sea and never whisper its accursed name except to the night wind. It’s YOUR copy, and if you want to turn it into someone else’s copy, that’s cool! I don’t have the right to tell you what to do with it. And so used books are part of the normal cycle that I agreed to.

(And so it’s awesome that you found Adaptation used—I’ve found books I love used too—and it’s so great that you went on to support the author in other ways!)

If you pirate a book, then you’re taking something I never gave you—a copy I never said could be made. (And infinity more copies can be illegally made, and infinity people can read them, so the damage is far greater than can be done with one copy.)

If someone talks about/recommends my book to their friends with an ‘I downloaded it’… I think it raises the chances that their friends will download it too, so that doesn’t really… help me? And even when I’m glad if people liked my books, I’m mad they stomped all over my rights.

In the last post I made, I was talking about the fact I’m writing a free novel-length story. (I try to write free extra stories a lot, though I haven’t written one on a novel-length scale before, and I feel very lucky I have time and energy and money, for now, to do so.) That is to say: there is free stuff available! Go, take it. I wrote it for you. I want you to. But I think it’s fair to say ‘With certain things I made, at certain times, I do really need to get paid by you/a library/someone who bought the copy new that you’re buying used/your friend who loaned you this/SOMEONE, so I can continue to eat and write stories both free and not-free.’ And it does not seem fair, to me, to say: ‘I want this specific thing you made, right now, for nothing, in exactly the way I want it, while harming you.’

I also want to examine the idea that people say they buy books when the books are hard to find.

Those books… and believe me when I say I know this as they are often my books… are hard to find because they are not being promoted. (These books are often books with LGBTQ characters or PoCs, because those books are judged as less marketable.) Being in a bookshop at all is promotion. ‘I download hard to find books’ translates to ‘I download books from already struggling authors.’ Which makes sure they struggle more.

Believe me, I think ebook prices should change, I think there should be more loans, I think that there should be more discount promotions for more authors. The system isn’t perfect. But harming people really low down on the ladder doesn’t help.

People often say ‘This celebrated guy author in a really secure financial position is A-OK with piracy’ and honestly all I can do is go ‘Well gee… I wonder why.’

They’re the ones whose books are the easiest to find. They’re the ones in all the bookshops, and getting promotion within the bookshops so they are highly visible. They’re the ones getting low promotional price points that other authors beg for and don’t get. They’re less likely to be pirated, and less likely to be hurt. 

But just because it’s super-easy and super-convenient to hurt someone doesn’t mean you should.

Even beyond the idea that a copy of a book exists as part of an agreement between the writer and the publisher, for instance, there’s the fact that downloading a book is different than checking one out at the library or buying one used because of the inherent limitations involved.

If you buy a book from a used book store the author might not be getting money from that sale, but here’s the thing: that copy of the book is no longer there. If the shop wants to stock it again, they’ll have to procure another copy. If someone wants the book and can’t find it in the used book store (and they don’t want to go to the library), they’ll have to go buy a copy.

The same applies to library copies of books. They’re limited in quantity. If I want to check a book out of the library but it has 30+ holds on it, I may very well end up going out and buying the book instead if I want it badly.

Online? There are an endless number of books. There’s no lack of supply, there’s no chain of events. You now have a copy of a book, but anyone else can go right back to that well for their endless supply.

Beyond THAT, the idea that “some readers can’t afford to buy books” is problematic in its own right. Some people can’t afford to read books. Some people don’t have access to a good library.

BUT that doesn’t mean you’re OWED the thing. Just because you can’t afford something and that something also exists doesn’t mean you inherently have some right to it.

You aren’t entitled to watching a movie or a show or reading a book just because someone made them, the same way you’re not entitled to go ride all the rides at Disney World just because they’re there anyway, you just don’t have the money to get in.

The worst part of all of this is seeing writers I love who are struggling to get by having to deal with this stuff. And a lot of people aren’t shy about going right up to the author and talking about how they stole the book, either.

It’s hard to make any money at all as a writer. It’s absolutely not okay to steal a book, period.

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