Author Jane Friedman discovers AI-generated books using her byline on Amazon

Author Jane Friedman has been thrown into the spotlight after it was discovered that fake, AI-generated books had appeared under her name on Amazon. 

Friedman has written many books on the publishing industry, and she’s credited with the concept of the author tour that has become a mainstay of the marketing strategy for new releases. 

However, she was recently alerted by a reader that there were several books on Amazon and the book-review site Goodreads, with her byline even though she didn’t write them, according to The Times.

She said: “I’ve been following AI-generated books polluting Amazon, generally speaking, with someone’s established name. I did anticipate that it would come to this – but I didn’t think that I would be the first major case that I would discover.”

Friedman referred to the books as a “gross violation,” as it’s clear that someone is trying to profit from her name. However, Amazon has made it difficult for her to get the books removed, as the platform claimed that Friedman did not own the copyright on them and had not trademarked her name. 

Though Amazon eventually removed the works, Friedman said that the platform needed to have better policies in place.

“They’ve never taken on any care or responsibility for these things. It’s pretty much anything goes until there’s a total sh*tstorm surrounding it, publicity wise,” she said. “Authors are just banging their heads against the wall trying to get a human being with critical thinking skills at Amazon to recognize there is a problem here.”

The report also mentioned Hari Kunzru, a British author, who has also called on Amazon to act, saying: “It’s really up to the platforms to police this properly because it’s going to make the customer experience worse and could have implications for piracy essentially: passing work off as being by someone else.”

While impersonation is really nothing new in the publishing industry, it has become more dire with the advent of ChatGPT and other AI-based technology. The prevalence has also become more apparent with the advent of Amazon’s Kindle Direct self-publishing site.

“This is something we really need to be worried about: these books will flood the market and a lot of authors are going to be out of work,” Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, said.

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