The rise of AI-generated “scam” books on Amazon is causing headaches for dedicated authors. Many are reportedly finding fake versions of their own books alongside the real ones, which is confusing for readers and damaging to the authors’ reputations.

In January, AI researcher Melanie Mitchell found a copycat version of her book, “Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans,” on Amazon. It was written by someone using the name “Shumaila Majid.” Despite trying to mimic Mitchell’s ideas, the counterfeit book lacked the depth and quality of the original. Analysis confirmed that it was likely generated by AI.

Such events are not uncommon in this Generative AI era. Renowned computer scientist Fei-Fei Li faced a similar situation when multiple summaries of her memoir flooded Amazon, according to WIRED. Despite disclaimers stating they were summaries, these books didn’t offer much value to readers.

The scary thing about AI is that it’s not only text that it can generate. Actually, there’s this online platform called Synthesia that lets you (yes, you) generate videos where someone speaks based on your input. It’s not just text or recorded speech; it’s an actual talking video.

When Kara Swisher, a tech journalist, came out with her new book, Burn Book, there were reports of seemingly artificial intelligence-generated biographies of her suddenly coming up on Amazon. Swisher immediately responded, telling The New York Times’ Hard Fork podcast, “I sent (Amazon CEO) Andy Jassy a note and said, ‘What the f***?’ You’re costing me money.”

Swisher was successful in getting the offending books removed from Amazon. But the problem of AI-generated scam books remains a widespread concern for authors. Most authors do not have the same direct contact with the CEO of Amazon via email.

The problem is getting worse because AI can churn out these summaries quickly, flooding the market with low-quality, soulless content.

Mary Rasenberger, CEO of the Authors Guild, a group advocating for writers, is reported as saying, “Scam books on Amazon have been a problem for years.” But she informs that the problem has multiplied in recent months.

“Every new book seems to have some kind of companion book, some book that’s trying to steal sales.”

It’s incredibly distressing, especially at a time when nations are officially considering AI as a potential threat to humanity.

According to Lindsay Hamilton, a spokesperson for Amazon, the company has made changes regarding AI-generated content. They now require publishers using Kindle Direct Publishing to indicate if their content is AI-generated. Moreover, Amazon has put a limit on the number of titles that can be published in a day.

Unfortunately, it’s still unclear how authors can legally fight back. While some argue that summaries are okay as long as they don’t directly copy the original text, others question whether these summaries are too similar to the original works. And within this context, there’s a separate faction deliberating on whether scraped data and articles should be permissible for training AI models.

Authors and experts are calling on Amazon to take more prominent steps to stop these alleged scams and protect both authors and readers. For now, authors face the threat of their work being exploited, and without due caution, readers might find themselves purchasing subpar material. If you are an author and want to protect your work from AI, you may want to read the article below:

Practical Tips for Authors to Protect Their Works from AI Use – The Authors Guild

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