Bret Easton Ellis couldn’t have written the story better: Robert Pickton, a notorious Canadian serial murder and former millionaire pig farmer, wrote a self-published a memoir, only to have it taken down from Amazon.
Pickton: In His Own Words was sent to Outskirts Press, a Colorado-based self-publishing company, by Michael Chilldres, a retired construction worker who is listed as the sole author of the book. But as CTV News reports, it was Pickton himself who wrote the manuscript, from the prison in Agassiz, British Columbia, where he’s serving a life sentence for killing six women.
Pickton reportedly gave his manuscript to former cellmate Grant White, who then passed it to Chilldres. Outskirts published the book on Jan. 29.
On Monday (Feb. 22), friends and family of Pickton’s victims and shocked bystanders started a petition on Change.org for Amazon to remove the title. Outskirts apologized for the book and said it would stop publication, and asked Amazon to grant the request for removal. By 1pm ET on Monday, Amazon had quietly removed the title, a practice that it’s done before in extreme cases. (Quartz has reached out to Amazon for a comment and will update this post as warranted.)
Said Mike Morris, BC’s minister of public safety and solicitor general, in a statement, “It is not right that a person who caused so much harm and hurt so many people could profit from his behavior.”
Pickton was originally charged with killing 26 women, but 20 of the murder charges were dropped in 2010 since he was already serving a life sentence. The convicted killer wrote in his book that he’s innocent, despite being captured on video in 2002 telling an undercover policeman he had killed 49 women and regretted not making it an even 50.
Outskirts tells Quartz it has “a longstanding policy of not working with anybody who has been incarcerated.”
It may seem counterintuitive that a self-publishing house should exert any control over its titles—the “self” arguably suggests that all decisions should come down to the author. Yet it seems even this rapidly growing, anything-goes corner of the book industry has its standards.