Amazon restricts authors from self-publishing more than three books a day after AI concerns

Amazon has created a new rule limiting the number of books that authors can self-publish on its site to three a day, after an influx of suspected AI-generated material was listed for sale in recent months.

The company announced the new limitations in a post on its Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) forum on Monday. “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. KDP allows authors to self-publish their books and list them for sale on Amazon’s site.

Amazon told the Guardian that the limit is set at three titles, though this number may be adjusted “if needed”. The company confirmed that there was previously no limit to the number of books authors could list a day.

The post stated that Amazon is “actively monitoring the rapid evolution of generative AI and the impact it is having on reading, writing, and publishing” and that “very few” publishers will be affected by the change. Authors and publishers will also have the option to seek an exception to the rule.

The rule change will “probably not” be a “gamechanger for managing the influx of AI-written content on Amazon’s platform,” said Dr Miriam Johnson, senior lecturer in publishing at Oxford Brookes University. “It will dent the numbers a bit, but for those who are making money by flooding the market with AI-generated books and publishing more than three a day, they will find a work-around.”

The three-book limit announcement comes a week after Amazon introduced the requirement for authors to inform the company when their content is AI-generated and added a new section to their guidelines featuring definitions of “AI-generated” and “AI-assisted” content. Johnson said that though the disclosure requirement is a “nice idea”, she questions how Amazon would check whether authors are disclosing AI-generated content.

The new sets of rules come after Amazon removed suspected AI-generated books that were falsely listed as being written by the author Jane Friedman. Earlier this month, books about mushroom foraging listed on Amazon were reported as likely to have been AI-generated and therefore containing potentially dangerous advice. AI-generated travel books have also flooded the site.

“I’m glad to see Amazon taking these sensible, incremental steps, and I hope they are prepared to do more as needed,” said Friedman of the three-book rule. “AI-generated material is unlikely to disappear any time soon given the numerous courses now being promoted to people seeking to make easy profits from selling AI-generated material – much of it low-quality and some of it even fraudulent, as I experienced.”

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