Can someone write 400 books in a month? This man has achieved it... with the help of ChatGPT. From March 27th to April 26th, 2023, Barrett Williams published 424 books, co-authored with the OpenAI artificial intelligence. On April 4th alone, he published 45 works. These are non-fiction books, ranging from culinary works on how to make hummus, fresh pasta, or artisanal cheeses, to practical guides on pet care or homemade soap-making. This author is also capable of discussing the delicate beauty of the monarch butterfly while offering advice on hunting bears, coyotes, or antelopes.
As a result of this case, we have wondered to what extent it is common to find books written by ChatGPT. The data, until the end of April, is compelling; we can already find 1,099 books authored by ChatGPT or by some of its variants (Chat GPT-3, GPT-4, ChatGPT lover, etc.) since December 10, 2022, the date when the first work credited to ChatGPT was published. While Reuters reported about 200 books published by mid-February, the growth has accelerated in recent weeks, with almost 300 books detected in March and over 550 in the month of April.
The majority of these books are in the non-fiction genre (83%), with a particular predominance of sub-genres of books written by ChatGPT about itself or various aspects of artificial intelligence. There is an abundance of recipe books, self-help works, technological essays, practical home advice, or books on scientific disciplines (genetics, nutrition, or neuroscience).
The second most frequent genre is works aimed at children (9%); these are not only tales but also coloring books. We find endearing characters generated by the artificial mind, such as the little dog Max or SuperSam, a young boy with great powers. An added bonus of many of these works is that the illustrations are done by artists like Dall-E or Midjourney.
Creative writing has found less resonance in the pen of ChatGPT, as only 69 novels or poetic works authored by the artificial intelligence can be found. Despite this, there are already authors who argue that ChatGPT can win literary awards.
Do you think that over 1,000 books written by ChatGPT in just four months is a lot?
Well, experts estimate that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Keep in mind that we only account for the books whose creators have had the honesty to declare ChatGPT's participation in their creation. But undoubtedly, there are many more books written by AI in which it is not credited as the author. As an example, Israel Joshua Chukwubueze has, according to the data collected by our project, six books co-authored with ChatGPT. However, in his profile on Amazon, we can see that he has published over 50 books throughout 2023, which leads us to infer that all (or almost all) of them have been written based on prompts.
This raises another series of questions that may now seem somewhat esoteric but are just around the corner. Would you buy a book that you know has been written entirely or partially by a machine? Probably not. On the other hand, if an author does not disclose that they have used a chatbot to create their work, isn't it an absolute deception to their readers?
Unlike the academic world, which is already issuing recommendations and guidelines on the use of AI tools in academic research, emphasizing that ChatGPT can in no way be the author of an academic work, there are no precise indications in the publishing industry. For example, in the case of Amazon, there are no guidelines in their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) service - which is mostly used by ChatGPT co-authors - that prevent a book from being signed by an artificial intelligence, nor is there any clause that obliges its disclosure, so each author chooses the option they consider most appropriate.
Undoubtedly, this is an aspect that should be reviewed by Amazon and other publishing platforms so that you and I know at all times whether the book in our hands was written by a person or an AI-based system.
Meanwhile, stay alert; welcome to the world of books written by machines.