Amazon Is Already Selling Books Written By AI, Are Authors Going To Lose Their Jobs?
Amazon's Kindle self-publishing ebook section is overrun with AI books, specifically children's books, written and illustrated by free programs that are driving out real authors.
In a turn of events that surprises no one, the publicly available ChatGPT AI program is already used to create content with minimum human involvement. Futurism reports that Amazon’s self-publishing Kindle resource is flooded with AI books; over 200 have been published this month alone, with ChatGPT listed as the author. The number of books being produced is likely significantly higher than 200, as only the authors that disclosed AI wrote the books.
One market section, in particular, is being completely overrun by these cheaply made and produced AI books: children’s books. Books for children are easy to produce with low word counts and simple artwork, most of which are also generated by AI software. Producing a children’s book using these programs is already the subject of countless YouTube and Tiktok tutorials, most proclaiming this as an easy way to get rich.
Writing is, with few exceptions, not a lucrative career for anyone that wants an easy path to a life of luxury. Self-published authors may not even be professionals; they could be teachers, bankers, concrete stampers, or homemakers writing books as a side hustle. These authors will likely suffer in the short term as AI books have caused the Kindle ebook store to resemble your phone’s app store with a catastrophic race to the bottom.
AI books are being sold for as low as $1, helping to drown out the quality content created by human authors. Apple and Google have dealt with a similar problem in their respective app stores, watching as most software is now “Free” with in-app purchases, and anything being sold for even $1 is considered too pricey. Both companies made very small changes to their policies regarding pricing, but so far, Amazon has yet to comment on the tsunami of poorly made ebooks.
No one should expect Amazon to make substantive changes to its self-publishing program in the near future. Cheap content sold in mass quantities still pays the same percentage to Amazon as lovingly crafted and curated content designed to entertain or inform. Until the storefront changes, AI books will be here to stay, and one of the world’s largest corporations has no incentive to keep products off their digital shelves.
Once the initial excitement over ChatGPT is over and most of these AI books earn under $100, many people will likely lose interest. In book publishing, selling 2,000 copies as a debuting author is considered a success, and after publishers take their cut, the total earned maybe just a few thousand. Online tutorials pushing people into authoring cheap books are just the latest grift that could work out for the few but will fail for the many.
At the moment, AI books will make the market hostile to authors, especially new authors, but in the long run, we might reach a point where a premium is placed on human content. If we get there, it won’t be because of the giant tech companies that dictate how we live; it will be regular people speaking with their wallets.