One of my 2023 resolutions is to read more and try listening to more audiobooks instead of only reading physical books like a nerd. So, while browsing two of Australia’s largest online book sellers, Booktopia and Readings to see what’s popular, I was amused at what I discovered typing ‘OpenAI’s ChatGPT’ in the search bar.
Booktopia and Readings are already selling e-books co-authored by ChatGPT. On Booktopia, Australia’s largest online bookstore, several e-book titles teaching readers how to master ChatGPT for affiliate marketing and social media are being sold for less than $15.
Educational texts about medicine, science and cuisines in different countries can also be found.
As for the real-life co-authors, they appear to be from the same few people or publishing houses, such as ‘KH Programming’ and ‘Sir Merger’.
Readings, on the other hand, is selling both non-fiction and fiction reads written by ChatGPT, and they’re more … colourful? A variation of keywords like “OpenAI”, “OpenAI’s ChatGPT”, and “ChatGPT” yields different results. One was even a storybook that’s written by ChatGPT.
The person who plugged in the prompts seemed pretty proud about it too. The synopsis on Readings reads: “This is a dystopian story written over four days by prompting ChatGPT to produce strange and absurd content, in order to explore its capabilities in producing truly original content.”
Another book directly listed that it’s produced by “ChatGPT Publications”:
Compared to titles on Booktopia, the AI-written e-books and paperback titles available for order on Readings come at a higher price tag of up to $42.99.
ChatGPT and bot-written spam
That Aussie book retailers are selling titles co-written by OpenAI’s viral tool, could be deemed as a potential risk to an influx of more AI generated content: a while ago, a popular sci-fi magazine, Clarkesworld, was forced to suspend submissions due to an influx of stories written by ChatGPT.
Readings’ policy on stocking self-published books states that they consider supporting small publishers and self-published authors. However, there is no mention of a policy surrounding content from emerging tech like AI.
Booktopia’s e-book section on its site, as well as its book distribution arm, Booktopia Publisher Services, does not mention its policy on selling titles generated by AI.
ChatGPT in schools
Educators fear AI will encourage students to cheat in exams. So far, in Australia, five states – Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland – have banned AI chatbot in public schools.
However, not all secondary institutions have a distaste for the AI assistant. In the UK, IB schools are now allowing students to use ChatGPT in essays, provided that they make reference to the tool.
But the biggest irony is perhaps when a university wrote a condolences email after a mass shooting with ChatGPT. Looks like it’s tough to resist the chatbot when it can be accessed with such convenience.
The Chainsaw has reached out to Booktopia and Readings for comment.