The Amazon Kindle has been a real boon for self-publishing authors, but its virtual bookstore may be overrun by a particularly prolific new scribe: ChatGPT.
As noted Reuters, there are already 200 e-books in the Amazon Kindle store, authored or co-authored by ChatGPT. But since Amazon doesn’t require authors to disclose whether they’ve used AI, this is likely a huge underestimation of the number of titles written or co-created by AI tools.
Books created by ChatGPT are published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct publishing division, which publishes over 1.4 million self-published books (opens in a new tab) each year and sells them alongside those written by famous authors.
No mention of AI tools like ChatGPT in the Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines (opens in a new tab)or any need for publishers to disclose them themselves, this number could skyrocket given the popularity of “large language models” that are particularly skilled at generating text from prompts.
This is great news for “authors” who want to dramatically increase their productivity by channeling ideas through the increasingly popular ChatGPT, which is now also available on Bing. In one example cited by Reuters, a New York retailer with no previous writing experience created a 30-page illustrated children’s book in a matter of hours and sold it through Amazon.
But it’s also a potential bombshell for both authors and readers, given that Amazon’s virtual shelves could soon be flooded with AI-created books. We’ve asked Amazon for comment on how it plans to address this issue and will update this story when we get a response.
For now, Amazon simply told us that “all books in the store must match ours content guidelines (opens in a new tab)including respecting intellectual property rights and all other applicable laws.” However, it seems clear that he will need to go further if his Kindle store is to maintain a sense of order and help readers distinguish books written by a robot from real authors.
Analysis: Amazon will have to stop robo-authors
The rapid growth of AI tools like ChatGPT is both a blessing and a curse for self-publishers, depending on how you view the technology. Their text generation skills are ideal for quickly creating first drafts, but authors also risk drowning in a sea of homogeneous doppelgängers.
Given that “big language models” such as ChatGPT and Google’s upcoming Bard are being trained on human-created content, there are also potentially huge copyright issues with works that are primarily generated using AI tools.
Seemingly, the amount of work generated by artificial intelligence in the Amazon Kindle store remains a drop in the ocean of its entire range. But that picture could change quite quickly, given the huge number of tutorials on YouTube and Reddit that show how easy it is to create and sell a new book in just a few hours.
Amazon’s goal for Kindle Direct has always been to remove all barriers to entry for beginning authors and speed up the creation of new titles. His Kindle Direct Tips (opens in a new tab) the site proudly states that “there are no gatekeepers to decide which books get published.”
While this policy is unlikely to change overnight, some AI detection tools may be required to at least flag ChatGPT-generated books to readers. Without moderation, the best Kindle readers could soon see their virtual shelves groan under the weight of some extremely prolific new AI authors.