Kara Swisher battles AI-generated doppelgänger books on Amazon

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Over the past few weeks, several biographical books about well-known US technology journalist Kara Swisher have appeared on Amazon that were generated entirely or at least in part by AI.

The books, published primarily through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service, bear the names of unknown authors and feature cover images that resemble strange AI-generated portraits of Swisher. They were also published shortly before the release of Kara Swisher’s actual book, presumably to benefit from its marketing.

“We have observed instances of AI-generated ‘similar’ books pop up on Amazon quickly after authors list pre-orders of upcoming books,” writes the US Authors Guild.

Following a complaint by Kara Swisher, who contacted Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, many of the books in question were removed. Swisher points out that most authors do not have such access to top executives. After Swisher’s books were removed, dozens of other books by the same unknown authors are still available on Amazon.

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Image: Kara Swisher via X

ChatGPT and digital self-publishing have encouraged amateurs to try to make a quick buck with AI-generated novels or how-to books. Some of these AI books even mimic the style of established authors and achieve good sales results.

Amazon has so far responded to the AI problem by limiting self-publishers to three books per day and requiring e-book authors to report AI-generated content (text, images, or translations) before publishing. However, to date, Amazon does not share this information with its customers.

Amazon has also restricted the publication of summaries and workbooks, which purport to offer supplemental material to actual books written by humans. According to the Authors Guild, at least the summaries may infringe copyright if they reproduce much of the content of the original book.

The Authors Guild is calling on Amazon to disclose on its website which books involve the use of generative AI. It also supports a bill that would require AI companies to label content generated by their tools as AI-generated.

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