The arrival of Amazon reshaped the retail landscape for books. The rise of e-books threatened the printed word. And the boom in self publishing gave writers a path to success that left out traditional publishing houses. Each time, the book business was able to adapt.
Now, publishing is facing a new disruption that is likely to be far more wide-ranging and transformative: the rise of artificial intelligence.
Some in the publishing world are already experimenting with artificial intelligence programs in areas such as marketing, advertising, audiobook production and even writing, weighing their promise of supporting work done by humans against the threat that the machines may take over some of those jobs entirely.
For others in the industry, the threat is already here. Writers have joined other artists, coders and content creators in suing A.I. companies, accusing them of using their work to train A.I. systems. The writers don’t want their work used without permission — especially since the technology can power chatbots such as ChatGPT, which can generate surprisingly evocative text, mimic well-known authors or even spit out whole novels after following prompts from a skilled human.