Some Thoughts on Recent Events

I’ve been out of town for several reasons over the past week: supporting family, being a tourist, attending trainings; but I didn’t want to let these issues fly by without commenting on them. Honestly Twitter and the internet moves so fast and there are probably so many other hot takes out there already, but just in case my readers missed these, here they are!

Insatiable on Netflix

Recently Netflix announced a show called Insatiable. It’s the story of a fat girl who is teased but then one summer she has to get her jaw wired shut. She emerges in the fall newly hot and thin(ner) and ready to take revenge.

The online community exploded and had the predictable argument about how you don’t have to be thin to be powerful (some still adhere to the idea that being fat is 100% unhealthy all the time so there was plenty of anger to go around).

Let me be very clear, if I haven’t made this plain before, I am fat. I am healthy. And if you don’t think I can stand up for myself without first obtaining some idea of attractiveness then you don’t know me. High school girls do not need one more movie or show about how they have to get thin or be like the “popular” girls to get even or be powerful – that’s all we’ve ever had.

Give me a show that shows a fat girl just being a normal person and using healthy methods to communicate and stand up to assholes WITHOUT her being some kind of comic relief. Show me a fat girl just being a person. Maybe even show me a fat girl that is popular and successful, not just clumsy/smart, or all those things combined! I’m tired of fat stories that are just suffering solved by weight loss. I’m disappointed in Netflix over this, and so is everyone else based on the reactions.

Article in Forbes about libraries

A rich, out-of-touch, white, economics professor dude wrote an article for Forbes (which has since been taken down) that described the necessity for Amazon to take over for public libraries to save on tax dollars. His logic was that it gave the taxpayer the freedom to choose whether they wanted to buy the books from the library or not, relieving all people from the tax burden of supporting public libraries.

To say that Book Twitter absolutely exploded would be an understatement.

The professor was complaining because he paid $475 or something like that in tax dollars for their public library alone (I’m not sure how he got those figures). Responses to this included what people would have to pay for the books that they currently have on file if they bought them on Amazon, versus what they paid in tax dollars for the service. One woman had 50 books on hold but only paid $74 in tax dollars to support the library system, illustrating the extreme benefits of having a rotating inventory of shared books and the small price to pay.

The point I want to add to this discussion is that we shouldn’t be talking about money at all. I am so fucking sick of talking about taxes like they are bad. Taxes are necessary. Taxes are NOT just random amounts of money that is being stolen from you. Taxes are amounts of money that you contribute in return for living in a developed, pleasant society. What is bad/good is who you elect to allocate those funds.

Libraries are not just a place to get free books, music, and DVDs. Libraries often provide educational programs, summer programs, or internet access for people who could not afford to have it in their home. It is where people can go for job search resources, community resources, and even where homeless people can go to be warm/cool and spend time doing something enjoyable like surfing the internet or reading a book.

Public libraries are a vital public resource that any community should fund to be sure that everyone has access to everything a library provides, which is legion. In society sometimes you have to contribute to things that you don’t necessarily use because the fact that someone else has access to it makes things better for everyone. (Another notorious tax complaint here is when old people complain about property taxes because they fund schools and since they don’t have kids they shouldn’t have to pay.)

Something that doesn’t directly affect you in your face TODAY RIGHT NOW might benefit you indirectly in ways you don’t or aren’t smart enough to realize. We live in an age where people can’t see past their own noses and entire groups of people are suffering because of it. Keep your fucking hands off my library.

Book Piracy

I did not catch all of this discussion but the general gist of this is that there is a HUGE problem nowadays with the rise in e-books where people convert them to PDFs and then they get shared around the internet for free.

I am writing a book currently (I will pass 50,000 words/200 pages this week!) and so I’ve been learning about the publishing industry and how it works. The basic idea is that royalties are based on books sold. Books sold include both hard copy (either hardcover or paperback) and e-books. Before a book is released pre-orders are very important as they help retailers plan for how many they will need, and the orders that they make are sales right away.

When I buy a book on Amazon, Amazon gets all that money because they have already bought the book from the publisher. When Amazon buys the book from the publisher, that’s the step at which the author gets a royalty. So Amazon (or your local independent bookstore, or even Barnes and Noble) bases its orders to the publisher on the demand for the book. If they notice that they sell about 100 a month, they’ll order more than that, and then reorder once it hits a certain threshold.

The problem comes when people are reading pdfs they found by googling on their personal reading device. They act like Kindle books (or Nook, if that’s your poison) but cost nothing. Someone had to buy it initially and convert it, and it’s beyond me why they would then put it out into the world for free, but that’s what happens.

This falls into the same category as the library issue I was talking about above. A book you can’t afford is available for free on the internet or you can wait to get it from the library for free. Another unfortunate side effect of our technological age is that people want things RIGHT NOW, our powers of rationalization are well developed, and our abilities to understand how our actions affect others are underworked.

Enough people make the “small” choice to get a pdf of a book online, and retailers don’t get as many orders, so they order less from the publisher. Eventually orders reduce so much that retailers don’t order at all, causing a book to go out of print and an author to lose their income. The defense that people have for this is that the author should be thankful that people are reading their work, but it’s past time for us to refuse to acknowledge the idea that “exposure” is a form of payment. Art is a product, you should pay to own or consume it, especially in the publishing world when so many people make so little. Not everyone is Stephen King, but even Stephen King deserves money for the books he writes. Writing a book takes a lot of time, and time is money.

If you currently use book pdfs that are the result of piracy, please consider stopping. You’re hurting someone’s livelihood.


What do you think? Sound off in the comments.











2 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Recent Events

  1. My stance on book piracy: I will pirate a book if it is literally not available for purchase in electronic format. I don’t think there’s any moral righteousness to that, but I don’t think there is a harm because no one is losing a sale. I literally will not read paper books anymore, so I don’t buy them. This, in some ways, falls in line with data regarding movie piracy: most movies people pirate are movies they are interested in seeing but would not otherwise pay for. I think I read that the most pirated movie is Jingle All the Way, which I don’t think anyone would cite as their favorite movie.

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