Monday, October 3, 2011


Yes, the interweb is still a bit of a Wild West kinda place all right. Imagine my surprise when I found out that Amazon books was selling a book about me (yes, me) starting at $39 [plus shipping & handling] all the way up to $50. It is a small 68 page paperback that seems to be available in several languages. How is this even possible I wondered?

It is because in this era of free content there are several publishing companies that exist for no other reason than to publish books complied from these free sources. The free sources in question are Wikipedia, as the cover proudly exclaims, "High quality content from Wikipedia articles". In the case of the book about me, the publisher is Betascript Publishing which is part of a company called VDM (which ironically has a Wikipedia entry), a company based in Germany (it's always the Germans!) with offices in Argentina and Latvia. There are three "editors" credited for the book about me whose names I'll pass on putting in the blog post. Nevertheless, they managed a 68 page book about me from this Wikipedia entry and another about Stark Raving Theatre and who knows where else (and now that you have read the links you know about me without having to spend $40!).

I wonder if there are pictures? I mean if any of you out there have published pictures on Facebook, well, it's only a google search away. I also wonder about the publishing date of this book: August 15th, 2011. That's a mere three weeks after I started this blog. Hmmm.
The book about me - from Amazon.

Now this book even has an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), and companies like VDM publish tens of thousands of titles a year. This, as one may well imagine, is causing a bit of trauma among librarians because the main complaint against a publishing house like VDM is they give authors credentials without any peer review or vetting process.

But, what about me? Do I get any of that $40? No. Is it legal to sell content that is available free elsewhere? Apparently. Would I be interested is seeing this book? Of course! Do I have a spare $40? Of course not! What if they included a blog post? Whoa! Selling that would be bad because I hold them pesky copyrights. At this juncture, I hope you, dear reader, have learned with me a valuable lesson. Wikipedia is out there and I think it's OK, I have a You Tube channel and this blog and hope a lot of people watch and/or read and share the material. However, selling copyrighted material without the author's consent is down right illegal and I wish I had $40 to find out if that is the case with the book about me.


KJ McElrath said...

Bizarre...and how does anyone who hasn't achieved celebrity status even rate a Wikipedia entry? Who are these books intended for? Furthermore, who would be absolutely stupid enough to shell out $40 for ANYTHING that's based on Wikipedia sources?

Rod Harrel said...

I wouldn't say "celebrity", but I've done some important work and helped create privacy policy at cable access. Toot - toot!

Rod Harrel said...

So, is anybody going to buy this book?