Hundreds of AI-written books flood Amazon

Close to 300 books written by ChatGPT were listed on Amazon on 22 February, 2023 (Getty Images/ iStock)
Close to 300 books written by ChatGPT were listed on Amazon on 22 February, 2023 (Getty Images/ iStock)

Hundreds of books written by ChatGPT have appeared on Amazon in recent weeks as people look to cash in on generative artificial intelligence.

Close to 300 books written or co-written by OpenAI’s AI software were listed on the online retailer on Wednesday, 22 February, ranging from fantasy fiction to self-help and non-fiction.

Titles of the books include ‘ChatGPT smarter than humans?’, ‘Make more money with ChatGPT’, and ‘The star weaver’s lesson: Magical bedtime story’.

Some people have even used ChatGPT alongside other generative AI software to create illustrated children’s books entirely produced by artificial intelligence through simple text prompts.

Due to the nature of ChatGPT and many authors’ failure to disclose they have used it, it is nearly impossible to get a full accounting of how many e-books may be written by AI.

The software’s emergence has already ruffled some of the biggest technology firms, prompting Alphabet and Microsoft to hastily debut new functions in Google and Bing, respectively, that incorporate AI.

There are already concerns being raised over authenticity, because ChatGPT learns how to write by scanning millions of pages of existing text. An experiment with AI by CNet resulted in multiple corrections and apparent plagiarism before the tech news site suspended its use.

Now ChatGPT appears ready to upend the staid book industry as would-be novelists and self-help gurus looking to make a quick buck are turning to the software to help create bot-made e-books and publish them through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing arm.

Illustrated children’s books are a favourite for such first-time authors. On YouTube, TikTok and Reddit hundreds of tutorials have appeared, demonstrating how to make a book in just a few hours. Subjects include get-rich-quick schemes, dieting advice, software coding tips and recipes.

”This is something we really need to be worried about, these books will flood the market and a lot of authors are going to be out of work,” said Mary Rasenberger, executive director of writers’ group the Authors Guild. Ghostwriting – by humans – has a long tradition, she said, but the ability to automate through AI could turn book writing from a craft into a commodity.

”There needs to be transparency from the authors and the platforms about how these books are created or you’re going to end up with a lot of low-quality books,” she said.

When asked for comment, Amazon did not address whether it had plans to change or review its Kindle store policies around authors’ use of AI or other automated writing tools.

“All books in the store must adhere to our content guidelines, including by complying with intellectual property rights and all other applicable laws,” an Amazon spokesperson said.

An OpenAI spokesperson declined to comment.

Additional reporting from agencies.