By Taral Wayne: Imagine my surprise when I googled my name this afternoon! I do this from time to time, out of curiosity. Just about the last thing I expected to find was that there is a book about me! It was unlikely enough that there was another “Taral Wayne” in the world, but surely not another associated with “science fiction, the Hugo Award, the Worldcon and Furry Fandom?” However, under the title “Taral Wayne,” that’s exactly what the cover says. I surrender graciously to the conclusion that this really is a book about me.
The editors Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tennoe and Susan F. Henssonow are nobody known to me, and I suspect to anyone else in the publishing business. The listed price on one web page was $45.
Also on the cover is a bright red seal guaranteeing “High Quality Content by Wikipedia Articles!”
After a bit more searching I found a blog that talked about this. You might want to read about this scam in more detail:
The publishers are apparently “Betascript Publishing,” who use Wikipedia articles and some publishing software to print on-demand copies of over 50,000 titles! “Betascript” is perhaps a misnomer. Also known as “Alphascript,” “Fastbook” and dozens of other imprints, they are all subsidiaries of VDM Publishing, who gives Mauritius as the head office. The publisher has likely downloaded articles Wikipedia en masse, and has software that searches for articles with a high degree of connectivity. It then plugs them into a .pdf template – poof! – instant book! VDM may have been a legitimate academic publisher at one time, but appears to have mutated, virus-like, into a more aggressive form that is actually beginning to clog up legitimate listings of books online.
Evidently “Taral Wayne” includes Wikipedia articles on the Hugo, Worldcon, and furry fandom as well as the one on myself (which I admit I had a hand in writing). More worrisome is the statement on one bookseller’s page that the volume is 68 pages long, with “black and white illustrations.” This is an entirely different and actionable kettle of fish. Even when it is pirated by some internet site, my art is nevertheless protected by copyright, and reproducing it without permission, or even my knowledge, should make VDM very liable to a costly legal action.
Alas… international lawsuits are generally impractical. Even giant corporations like Sony, Disney and Warners have trouble stamping out Pacific Rim piracy. Clearly, I’m unable to pay an army of lawyers over several years, so what chance have I got?
I suppose I’ll have to be satisfied with warning book dealers somewhat disingenuously that they might be liable to legal action for selling the book… But, mainly I’d better just try to get a laugh out of the experience. Not every fanartist is worth ripping off…