What just happened? One of the many industries being disrupted by generative artificial intelligence, and usually not in a good way, is self-publishing. There's been a flood of what's suspected to be AI-written novels published on Amazon this year, and as such, the tech giant is limiting the number of books that authors can submit to the site to three per day.
Amazon revealed the publication limitation in a post on the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) forum. KDP allows authors to self-publish their books and sell them in e-book, paperback, and hardback versions on the retail site.
"While we have not seen a spike in our publishing numbers, in order to help protect against abuse, we are lowering the volume limits we have in place on new title creations," read the statement.
Amazon told The Guardian that the limit is three titles per day, though this number may be adjusted if needed. The company said that there had previously been no limit on the number of books an author could list in a single day. (Update: Amazon has since confirmed there was a previous limit, but the company declined to say what it was).
Amazon added that it is actively monitoring the rapid evolution of generative AI and the impact it is having on reading, writing, and publishing.
Most authors and publishers don't submit three books per day, of course. Amazon confirmed that very few publishers will be impacted by the change, and those that are can seek an exception to the rule. It still means that someone could submit up to 21 AI-generated books per week, which is no small number.
Amazon does not ban AI-generated books from the site, though its guidelines state that users must inform the company of AI-generated content (text, images, or translations) when publishing or republishing a book. How Amazon checks whether authors are disclosing AI-generated content is unclear - expect plenty of people to try and circumvent the new rules.
The Guardian notes that the rule change comes after Amazon removed suspected AI-generated books that were falsely listed as being written by the author Jane Friedman. There were also books about mushroom foraging on the site that were reported as likely to be AI-generated and therefore contained advice that could potentially kill someone.
Back in February, it was reported that over 200 books had appeared on Amazon that had been either "co-authored" with ChatGPT or published with no human intervention beyond formatting and submitting the generated text.
It's not just Amazon that is experiencing an overwhelming influx of AI-generated stories, which are usually mediocre and generic at best and extremely low quality at worst. Science fiction magazine Clarkesworld had to institute a submission freeze early this year due to the number of AI-generated content it received.