Though he had dreamed about it, Brett Schickler had never before considered the possibility of becoming a published novelist. After discovering ChatGPT, the artificial intelligence programme, Schickler believed he had been given a chance.

The prospect of authoring a book, according to Rochester, New York salesman Schickler, “finally appeared feasible.” I believed, “I can accomplish this.”

Schickler produced a 30-page illustrated children’s e-book in a couple of hours using the AI programme, which can produce text blocks from straightforward instructions, and made it available for purchase through Inc.’s self-publishing division in January.

Schickler claims that he has made less than US$100 from his book The Wise Little Squirrel: A Story of Saving and Investing, which is available for US$2.99 on Amazon’s Kindle store or US$9.99 for a printed version. Even while it may not seem like much, it gave him the motivation he needed to use the software to write more novels.

According to Schickler, who utilised ChatGPT prompts like “create a tale about a dad teaching his son about financial literacy,” “I could see individuals creating a full career out of this.”

Schickler is at the forefront of a movement examining the potential and constraints of ChatGPT, which made its debut in November and has shocked Silicon Valley and beyond with its astounding capacity to produce meaningful blocks of text quickly.

As of mid-February, more than 200 e-books in Amazon’s Kindle store listed ChatGPT as an author or co-author. These books include How to Write and Generate Content Using ChatGPT, The Power of Homework, and the poetry collection Echoes of the Cosmos. And it keeps growing every day.

Books totally authored by ChatGPT on utilising ChatGPT have even become a new subgenre on Amazon.

Yet, because of the nature of ChatGPT and the unwillingness of many authors to reveal their use of it, it is incredibly difficult to determine the exact number of e-books that might have been produced by AI.

The development of the software has already alarmed some of the biggest names in the IT industry, leading Alphabet Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to rapidly introduce new AI-infused features in Google and Bing, respectively.

ChatGPT’s quick consumer adoption has sparked a frenzy of activity in the tech community as investors pour money into startups with an AI focus and have given technology companies a new purpose in the shadow of large layoffs. After showcasing an integration with ChatGPT, Microsoft, for example, garnered adoring attention this month for their otherwise dormant Bing search engine.

Yet, since ChatGPT learns to write by scanning millions of pages of previous material, there are already doubts about its veracity. Before CNET ceased its usage of AI, an AI experiment produced many corrections and what appeared to be plagiarism.

A threat to “true” authors?
When aspiring authors and self-help experts eager to make a quick profit turn to ChatGPT to help develop bot-made e-books and sell them through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing division, the staid book industry now appears ready to be upended.

Such debut authors choose to write picture books for kids. There are hundreds of tutorials showing how to build a book in a few hours on YouTube, TikTok, and Reddit. Get-rich-quick scams, nutrition advice, software coding instruction, and recipes are among the topics covered.

The Authors Guild executive director Mary Rasenberger remarked, “This is something we really need to be concerned about; these books will flood the market and a lot of authors will lose their jobs”. She noted that although human ghostwriting has a long tradition, automation made possible by artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to reduce book authorship to a commodity.

Or you’ll wind up with a lot of low-quality publications, she said. “Authors and platforms need to be transparent about how these books are made,” she said.

A 119-page novella called Galactic Pimp: Vol. 1 about alien factions battling for control of a human-staffed brothel in a distant galaxy was written in less than a day, according to the author who goes by the name Frank White, as seen in a YouTube video.

The book is available on Amazon’s Kindle e-book store for for $1 USD. In the video, White claims that anyone with the means and the time could use AI to produce 300 such books annually.

Because Amazon’s standards do not mandate it, many authors, like White, feel no obligation to mention in the Kindle shop that their great American work was written entirely by a computer.

When prompted by Reuters for comment, Amazon declined to say whether it intended to modify or evaluate its Kindle store policies on writers’ use of artificial intelligence or other automated writing techniques. According to Amazon spokeswoman Lindsay Hamilton via email, “all books in the shop must adhere to our content guidelines, including by complying with intellectual property rights and all other applicable laws.”

OpenAI, the company that created ChatGPT, declined to comment.

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