Amazon broken? AI-generated books hog Kindle Unlimited best-sellers list; author protests
Indie author Caitlyn Lynch has highlighted in a tweet that only 19 book titles in the Teen & Young Adult Contemporary Romance eBooks top 100 chart on Amazon were written by real authors, while the rest were AI-generated books.
While the positives of artificial intelligence cannot be overstated, the same rule applies to its downsides. Recently, a song titled Heart on My Sleeve created a big controversy after it was revealed to be generated by AI, and major streaming sites pulled it off their shelves. Similarly, a new crypto scam was seen on social media platforms where AI-generated images of adventurer and celebrity Bear Grylls and former football player Ian Wright were used to spread fake news. Now, according to an indie author, the dark side of AI is spreading across Amazon's Kindle Unlimited.
Caitlyn Lynch, an indie author recently tweeted about the issue of AI-generated books dominating Kindle Unlimited. She said, “The AI bots have broken Amazon. Take a look at the Best Sellers in Teen & Young Adult Contemporary Romance eBooks top 100 chart. I can see 19 actual legit books. The rest are AI nonsense clearly there to click farm”.
AI-generated books flood Kindle Unlimited
Kindle Unlimited is a monthly subscription program by Amazon that gives members access to more than 4 million digital books, as well as thousands of audiobooks, comics, and magazines. It is a convenient way for Kindle owners to read a vast variety of books without paying for each of them individually.
The subscription also allows authors to showcase their books who self-publish through Amazon's Kindle Direct Program. It has an easy sign-up process and you don't need to go through the procedures of a large publishing house to get your book to the readers. Many self-published authors today have developed their own fan base using Kindle Unlimited's platform.
However, due to the easy process, it has also become a hotspot for bad actors who have flooded the space with a high volume of AI-generated books. The books are of low quality and largely nonsensical, but they still end up getting visibility due to catchy titles or just the sheer number of them. But there is another reason why they are ranking so high. And the answer to this question also explains why exactly are scammers doing this.
Lynch explained in a separate tweet, “They point bots at the book to read it in Kindle Unlimited... payout is $0.004 per page read, meaning a 400 page book pays $1.60. Several thousand bots vs. several thousand books = $$$$$ pretty fast. That's how these are ranking so high”.
What is Amazon doing about it?
According to a report by TechRadar, Motherboard reached out to Amazon, and a spokesperson said, “We invest heavily to provide a trustworthy shopping experience and to protect customers and authors from abuse”.
The statement did not mention what steps were being taken to stop the infiltration of AI books. However, it should be noted that just hours after Lynch complained about AI books making it to the top 100 charts, the suspicious books were taken down and the current list appears to be only made up of real authors. However, the AI books can still be found on the platform.