You’re about to start formatting a book review post on your blog and you need an image of the book’s cover. You hop on over to Goodreads, find the image, get the link, and add the image to your blog using that link. Today I’m going to talk about why you shouldn’t do this.
Using images straight from Goodreads (or another site) is stealing.
Any time you add an image to your blog that is not hosted on your blog or an image uploading site (like Photobucket), you are stealing bandwidth. If you’re on WordPress, you’ve bought hosting. If you’ve bought hosting, you may have seen your site say “You get this much bandwidth per month”. (Note: Even if your hosting says “unlimited bandwidth”, it doesn’t actually mean that. Unlimited bandwidth is a marketing trick/lie.) Using images from someone else’s site increases the amount of bandwidth they use and can cause them to have to pay more money to pay off additional bandwidth usage charges.
So what is bandwidth?
Bandwidth is basically how much data you can transfer from your site. Every time someone visits your site, a bit of data is transferred. So, in a sense, the amount of bandwidth you use correlates to how many people visit your site. The more people who visit, the more bandwidth you use.
How does this relate to Goodreads?
Whenever you use an image from someone else’s site on your blog, you are using their bandwidth. Since that image is hosted on their servers, their servers have to transfer data whenever someone visits YOUR site. Now, that’s not fair, is it? You’re piggybacking on someone else’s web hosting to put things on your website!
What should you do instead?
Now, I’m not even going to get into copyright laws and things like that, since I’m mostly focusing on Goodreads.com and book covers, and using those in book reviews falls under “fair use”. But the point I’m making is that when you write up a blog post and want to use a book cover image, do not link the image from Goodreads.com! It’s not fair to them and their servers. In fact, this might even contribute to why they go offline so often (even if just a small, itsy bitsy amount). Stealing bandwidth (or image hotlinking) is considered very rude and even a bit malicious in the online world.
Instead, when you want to use an image, save it to your computer and then upload it to your own blog (or your Photobucket account). That way, when you put it on your blog, you’re hosting it on your own space instead of stealing it from Goodreads.
And it’s not just Goodreads..
This doesn’t only apply to Goodreads.com. This applies to EVERY website. If you have images on your blog that are hosted somewhere else, you’re using someone else’s bandwidth. Assuming you have permission to use that image, you should upload it to your own blog so that it’s hosted by you instead of by the other person. That way you’re using your own resources and your own site’s power to display that image.
Other dangers of hotlinking images
There are other risks involved when you decide to use an image hosted on someone else’s server. Let’s say Goodreads closed down one day.. guess what.. every single book cover image on your blog would BREAK. It would no longer exist. If Goodreads doesn’t exist, those images don’t exist. Hosting everything on your own space ensures that you can always have access to those files.