Another upsetting outcome of the inevitable coming together of the generative AI infocalypse, enshittified subscription service monopolies, misguided algorithmic recommendation systems and the incentives of modern-day capitalism has been achieved. This time this victim is books.

According to Vice, many of the supposedly most popular entries in the Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription service’s bestseller list recently were in fact fully AI generated nonsense.

A rash of books with similar covers, quite random titles and absolute nonsense inside them apparently hit the top 100 list, at least in categories such as Young Adult romance.

Some Kindle Unlimited book covers from Vice's article

My favourite of the ones Vice reported on has to be the catchily named “Apricot Bar Code Architecture”. The introductory sentence, if you please:

“Black lace pajamas, very short skirt, the most important thing, now this lace pajamas are all wet.”

Now I don’t imagine too many readers made it all the way through these books meaning that whoever put them there probably isn’t raking in too much money per reader. It seems like Kindle Unlimited is paying something like 0.4 US cents per page read, if I understand Chris McMullen’s post correctly. But the fact that they got to the top of the rankings means they’re making some amount of money for someone, likely at the expense of the more traditional actually-makes-sense books.

Because Kindle Unlimited pays authors per page read, not per book read, if you can get 1000 people - real or imaginary - to read the first 5 pages of your effortlessly created clickbait book then you’ll get the same amount of financial reward as someone who can get 10 people to read the entirety of their award-winning 500 page novel - and more than if 5 people who read your 500 page novel valued it so much that throughout their later life they each read it another 10 times each.

I suppose it doesn’t take much for the same folk who set up fake ad-clicking farms to switch to fake book-reading farms.