Buying stock images for your book

A free stock image of stock imagesPutting together images for most books is easier than ever before, due to the many image stores available online. Previously, most of these stores were very expensive and had lots of stipulations about the use of the images. However, today there are plenty of good stock image suppliers around. There are also more and more free image stores around which allow you to use the images without any attribution. The biggest challenge is finding the image you want, and sometimes the ideal image, or the fastest way to find one, may be one you have to pay for.

Some of the free image stores online include Pexels, Pixabay, and Unsplash. Both Pexels and Pixabay allow you to choose the image size you require and don’t require attribution of the photographer. Unsplash doesn’t require attribution. However, they only offer the image in one size. These three stores offer their images under the CC0 1.0 license, which means the photographer has waived their rights, and the images can be copied, modified, and distributed for both personal and commercial purposes without permission or attribution. However, when using these images, they must not be used to depict those identifiable in the image in a bad light, or imply that the depicted identifiable people endorse brands unless the depicted people have explicitly granted permission.

If you luck out with these image stores, there are Dreamstime, Crestock, iStockphoto, Shutterstock, and the Creative Market, where you can buy images. These stores allow you to buy images, either per image or by subscription. When you buy the images, you agree to the terms of usage.

Close up of a camera lens Whether you find your images for free or purchase them, the benefit of stock images is that they are quick to find. The large size of the collection and the meta-data in the digital asset management system used on these stores are what you’re really paying for. As a bonus, generally the images you have to pay for have been through a quality-control process, so they are of a professional standard.

While it may be tempting simply to search Google Images, you will find many images that are hard to get permission to use, or for which the original copyright owner will be hard to find. This does not mean that the owner will not find out about your unauthorized use. On the contrary, there are bots trawling the internet for copyright infringement, using image/pattern recognition technology. Your use of a random image downloaded from Google Images (in actual fact the image is from some other website, as that is where Google Images fetches them from) may result in a nasty letter from a lawyer.

If you must use Google Images to search for images to use in a commercial product (yes, your self-published book or website counts as a commercial product), use the Advanced Image Search tool and select free to use, even commercially. This will filter out images that do not contain the free to use meta-data.

Here’s the link:

It may be simpler for you to source your images from image stores, because you can be sure to secure the right to use the images and you’re fully aware of the terms of usage.

If you copy or download files you find on Google Images, or elsewhere around the web, you may be accessing images which infringe copyright, which could lead to legal problems. Furthermore, you are less likely to get high quality (print quality) images this way. Stock image websites are the best way to go, for most book design purposes.

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