AI-generated books may seriously harm the publishing industry, and digital subscriptions are prone to be hit the hardest.
There is a growing list of books published with the help of artificial intelligence.
Everyone knows the story of Ammaar Reshi, a product manager for a Silicon Valley fintech company, who used ChatGPT and Midjourney to create a children’s book Alice and Sparkle.
Since August 2022, a Canadian artist Tim Boucher published almost 100 books that were co-created by AI. Boucher says he needs between 6 and 8 hours to create and publish each of his books. Imagine, a single author capable of publishing hundreds of books a year.
Obviously, ChatGPT takes credits for most of what happens in the publishing industry right now.
Currently, there are already almost 1,000 ebooks in the Kindle Store that are co-authored by AI. Specifically, ChatGPT is listed as one of their authors. These books were created by authors responsible enough to admit they use ChatGPT.
And now we come to the essence of the big problem that’s flooding Kindle Unlimited: lots of newly published books were generated by AI, and you don’t even know about it.
What’s even worse, many of these books made it to the top 100 Kindle bestseller lists. It was first discovered by an indie author Caitlyn Lynch on Twitter (here is a cover story on the Vice):
💬 Take a look at the Best Sellers in Teen & Young Adult Contemporary Romance eBooks top 100 chart. I can see 19 actual legit books. The rest are AI nonsense clearly there to click farm.
How is that possible? It’s directly connected with how digital subscriptions work. As you can download any book at no extra cost, you do it instantly without checking out its content.
And when you open the book on your e-reader or in a book reading app, you just need to read roughly the length of the free sample to make this book considered as read.
The story about nonsense AI Kindle Unlimited books broke at the end of June 2023, and most of these titles are not on the main Kindle bestseller lists anymore. However, they are still on the top 100 lists for subcategories. Luckily, these books have several things in common, and I will discuss them below.
How to spot AI-generated Kindle Unlimited ebooks
The titles are usually written in capital letters
It may obviously change over time, as the creators of these books with try to adapt. But today, most of these AI books come with titles written in CAPITAL LETTERS.
I am not talking about the title that appears on the cover art, but the title that’s a part of the product page description on Amazon.
Here is a screenshot of the Top 100 Kindle bestsellers in the Teen & Young Adult category.
Authors have Asian names
If you spot a book that is published by someone called Lam Dich Quan, Phung Linh Vang or Phuong Tuong, it strongly suggests that its content was generated by AI.
Here is the same screenshot with the highlighted names.
Book covers are made from a template
If you browse Kindle bestsellers lists or search results pages, and notice books with the same cover artwork and different titles, the chances are big these books are AI generated.
Obviously, there are many books that use the same cover artwork, naming only the books from the same series, or free Kindle books that are available in the Kindle Store.
However, compared to book series, the same cover art is used not for a few titles but dozens of them.
Again, let’s have a look at the Top 100 Kindle bestsellers in the Teen & Young Adult catgory.
Same cover art but different authors
If you re still not sure whether the KU book was AI-generated or not, you can compare cover art. If the books with the same cover art template are published by different Asian authors, these books are AI-generated (see the screenshot above).
Books are under 100 pages
I have run through the entire list of Top 100 Kindle bestsellers in the Teen & Young Adult catgory, to spot the AI titles. Then I opened them their product detail pages.
Out of 24 titles in the Top 100 Teen & Young Adult bestsellers that I considered to be AI generated:
▸ Only one title had a print length longer that 100 (FREE MUSIC by Lam Dich Chinh), with 118 pages).
▸ 13 books were shorter than 50 pages.
Why are these books short? It’s not only about the ease of generating the content. In the case of the digital subscription it’s also about meeting conditions of the read title. The shorter the book, the biggers the chances to get the reader swipe past the required length.
Published in 2023, no publisher
The final place to find out, if the book was generated by AI or not is the “Product details” section.
None of the books I have tested included the “Publisher” field in the Product details” section.
If all the conditions listed above were met, and if the book was published in 2023 or later, you can be sure is was not written by a human but by an AI tool.
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