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Robert Pickton, notorious killer, pens book for sale on Amazon

23 February 2016

From CBC News:

Convicted serial killer Robert Pickton appears to have written a book while in prison, and it is available for purchase on Amazon, angering victims’ families and the B.C. government.

A book titled Pickton: In His Own Words is available for $20.17 on Amazon and is printed by Outskirts Press, a Colorado-based publishing company. The book is listed as having a publishing date of Jan. 29.

It is not clear when it was written or how the material was able get to the publisher from Kent Institution, the maximum-security prison near Agassiz, B.C., where Pickton is serving a life sentence.

Pickton, now 66, was convicted of the second degree murders of six women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and was suspected in others, although a further 20 murder charges were stayed.

“My first feelings are for the families, you can just imagine how they’re feeling right now,” said Kat Norris, an activist in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside community.

. . . .

B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris said in a statement that his office is appealing to Amazon to stop selling the book.

“We are taking this very seriously and investigating every means available to ensure that the families involved are protected from further harm and that Robert Pickton will not profit in any way from this book,” said the statement.

“It is not right that a person who has caused so much harm and hurt so many people could profit from his behaviour.”

. . . .

B.C. does not have a law preventing criminals from profiting from their crimes. According to the advocacy group Victims of Violence, the four provinces that have such legislation are Alberta, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Saskatchewan.

Link to the rest at CBC News and thanks to Gordon for the tip.


27 Comments to “Robert Pickton, notorious killer, pens book for sale on Amazon”

  1. I feel for the families, and can see where any profits of the book should go to them rather than the murderer, but how is an autobiography any different than, say, 60 minutes interviewing Charles Manson? It’s just someone telling their side of the story.

    • I think the difference is that Manson doesn’t get paid for the interview. He gets publicity, but not a paycheck. And I suppose there’s a distance with an interview, in that you’re not in his head, a place many people would not like to be unless they have a professional interest (the Criminal Minds team).

      The reason why the “head space” matters: One assumes that in his autobiography Pickton tries to aggrandize himself and justify why he killed those people.

      Whereas, you’d typically see the victims’ side of the story included in an article / show / documentary, and his killings would be placed in an informative vs. glamorizing context. I could imagine the victims’ families preferring the latter (a news story) to the former (his autobiography), especially if he’s profiting from the former.

      • There’s no telling what form the book takes. It could be transcripts from phone interviews interspersed with case file data. Until the book is out it’ll be hard to judge the ethics of the publisher, given that it isn’t actually illegal in BC.

        A bit of an oversight by their breed of politicians.

        (I do wonder why they drag Amazon into it since their beef is with the publisher who is paying (paid?) for the material.)

        • Ah, I thought the book was out. And I’m confused as well by what Amazon has to do with it; when I saw the headline I thought their imprints had published the book. I’m mainly wondering who helped Pickton get the book to the publishers in the first place. Unless I’m wrong to assume that inmates aren’t allowed to mail items to people, I’m figuring Pickton has help either from a prison staff member or a relative.

          • Or it’s ghostwritten.
            Or “as told to”.
            He needn’t have actually written the book, just talked to the publisher. Maybe by phone. Weekly phone calls, taped, could’ve done the job.

            More publicity from listing him as author will result in more sales, more income to the inmate or, maybe, some relative(s).

            I’m seeing a double faux pas here for the system. It’s been decades since most jurisdictions banned this kind of deal and now going to the media only raises the visibility of the book.

          • Guys, really: why is Amazon _always_ dragged into it?

            Because it’s Amazon. And we must protect the whales. Will no one think about the poor cetaceans!?

            Take care.

          • It was out but I think Amazon removed it.

        • His content isn’t what folks seem to be thinking it is. This article discusses it:


          • Ah,

            Chilldres told the National Post that he was sent the manuscript in the mail and had originally had no idea who Pickton was.


            Chilldres said Pickton gave the manuscript to a cellmate, who sent photocopies of Pickton’s handwritten scrawl to Chilldres. Chilldres had a friend type it up and submitted it to Outskirts Press, a process that took a year and cost CA$2,500 (£1,300). He said Pickton would not profit from the book as he gave up publishing rights when he handed over the manuscript, but reportedly asked that 10% of profits went to charity.

            No charity has been chosen yet.

            From what the British Columbia public safety minister says, Canada will perhaps create a “Son of Sam” law in response to this.

          • According to that article, it was also available on Barnes and Noble, but for some reason that doesn’t make any of the headlines.

            • Good point.

            • It was mentioned in the news reports on the radio. “The government has asked Amazon and Barnes and Noble to stop selling the book.” For some reason it didn’t make it into the print version of the story from the same news outlet.

    • Apparently it was written by someone who knew him in prison and has since been released. The title was “Pickton: In His Own Words” and it’s now been pulled. The money was not to go to Pickton, but was allegedly supposed to be going to either his, or the author’s legal fees. And while this sort of publication is not currently illegal in Canada (profiting through publication from a crime) I suspect it soon will be.

  2. Outskirts Press didn’t pay him for the book: he paid them. The website has serious Author Solutions overtones. For several thousand bucks, they’ll “self-publish” you so you don’t have to learn any of that hard stuff.

    I suppose the interior of a prison doesn’t have a lot of DIY resources. But this isn’t a publisher as we know it.

  3. Free speech is a b***h, isn’t it.

    • Yeah, but hate speech is illegal.

      • How is this hate speech?

        • In Canada, any speech that offends a hypersensitive dweeb with a 72 IQ is hate speech.

          Look at American campuses (campi?). Anything that requires a trigger warning, for example, “You might possibly have left one factor unconsidered in your argument” constitutes hate speech. Remember, we’re the country that banned “Money for Nothing”.

  4. I would rather Amazon not sell this book, but I don’t want Amazon picking and choosing which books to sell, therefore I accept Amazon selling this as long as it doesn’t violate any one their existing content guidelines.

    The BC Government asking Amazon and other retailers to not sell the book is asking someone else to save BC from embarrassment by covering up our failure to deal with the matter ourselves. I would like a law that prevented convicted criminals from profiting from their crimes. Let the Robert Picktons write their books, but revenues go in a general victim services fund. A general fund as hopefully no single book would generate a useful amount of revenue, and you don’t want to have to vet a convict’s choice as to a suitable good cause. I’d like a similar requirement on publishers, but I don’t know how that would work.

    No laws were broken in publishing this book, but it could not have gotten from Pickton to the publisher without regulations being broken. This is a separate question and the citizens of BC have been promised it will be looked into.

    I agree with Wally Oppal that the best thing is to ignore the book, but that’s like asking someone to not think of an elephant.

  5. I’m bummed it’s not up anymore. But then again, I am a big fan of reading true crime about serial killers and FBI profiling. I think it’d be an interesting insight into the mind of a serial killer and maybe give clues to figuring out why some people become serial killers. I guess if it can’t be for sale, then at least give it to the profilers to pick apart.

  6. Anyone know if British Columbia ever took up legislation to prevent criminals from profiting from such books? If so, the story of that legislation, hearings, and discussion would be interesting.

    • It has been talked about, but I don’t think it has ever made it to the order paper. I doubt it will this time either. We currently have a government that thinks sitting in the legislature wastes time they could be spending out in their precincts governing. Which kind of misses the point the whole thing.

      • Order paper? Is that the Canadian list of pending legislation?

        • Effectively. The order paper is all business before a session of the Legislature. So if politicians talk and talk about how something must be done, but a bill is never scheduled to be introduced in the Legislature, then it is not on the order paper and the talk wasn’t serious.

          If a bill is introduced in the Legislature but does not pass through all the necessary stages to become law during a single session of the Legislature then the bill “dies on the order paper”.

  7. I believe Outskirts is a vanity publisher who gets paid by whoever submits the book. Case pretty much closed.

  8. I’d need to see the contract. It could be something in the contract is not legal. OJ’s book was pulled here in the states because of a legal impropriety re advance/ contract/ civil judgement.

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