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Taking The Books-On-Demand Business Quite Literally

from the now-that's-one-long-tail dept

It would appear that Philip Parker has taken the concept of "the long tail" to heart. He's created a publishing company that has a bunch of computers search the internet and come up with books on various topics in a nearly totally automated fashion. The details aren't at all clear from the article (and I'm surprised there's no discussion at all of potential copyright issues), but it almost sounds like a sort of madlibs -- where someone just need to fill in some blanks, and the computer automates the rest of the book writing process. As a result, Parker reportedly has over 200,000 books published and available on Amazon to date (though, oddly, my own search turned up many fewer), which are all available for "print-on-demand." From the sound of things, you get the feeling that he could take it back one step further to: generate on demand. In the article he provides an example, creating a new "book" in about 13 minutes. That way, a single sale of each book is pure profit. Of course, you might be wise to question the quality of such books. The reviews I found on Amazon of his books are almost universally quite negative.

In the meantime, if anyone has more info on Parker or Icon Group, and how it deals with copyright issues, I'd be curious to know more. Parker has a video on YouTube which (by title) suggests he has a patent on this whole process (a quick search turns up this patent on a method and apparatus for automated authoring and marketing as the likely patent). The video makes a bunch of claims, but does little to explain how any of this is actually done. Actually, you could say the same thing for the patent itself. It makes a bunch of extremely broad claims, that don't actually do anything to explain how it actually works (which, we had thought, was part of the requirement in getting a patent).

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Duodave, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    Uh, isn't this called a search engine?

    So let me get this straight. He's invented a search engine with paper output?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    TheTraveler, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 11:08am

    Re: Uh, isn't this called a search engine?

    NO I don’t think it’s a search engine per say... its a book creator... you put in a few words and the machine writes a book for you!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    deathbychichi, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 11:52am

    Yeah, they suck

    I bought a couple of these, uh, program-authored books about disaster preparedness and response, from Amazon no less, and they are utter garbage.

    I think they just crawl Google results, reformat them (badly), and poop out huge numbers of them. Since cost is so low, who cares how many don't sell, as long as some do?

    Ya know what it is? It's spam, in inconvenient book form.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Zaide, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 12:09pm

    They suck...

    At least in the past when you bought a book, you could be sure it was a nice, credible source of information, having gone through a tedious editing process to ensure quality. It's almost like the engine takes that part out. Someone forgot that editing is more than for grammer and spelling... :/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    slimcat (profile), Apr 14th, 2008 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Re: Uh, isn't this called a search engine?

    Something like:

    It was a dark and stormy night. (dump Google core here). The End

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    chef boyardumb, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 12:29pm

    Cook me a book

    I have a program I am working on, where I put in a couple of details into the software, and the computer makes me supper.
    For example, if I type in penne pasta, green beans, and Gouda cheese, and hit prepare, out shoots a delicious chicken salad sandwich. I'll admit I haven't worked out all the bugs yet.
    But until his program (and mine for that matter) makes the perfect primavera, I will not be impressed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    comboman, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 12:37pm

    How to write a book

    1) Pick topic
    2) Type topic into Wikipedia
    3) Hit print
    4) Sell to idiots

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Jake, Apr 14th, 2008 @ 1:03pm

    Face, Meet Wall

    This story contains such a cataclysmic catalogue of awfulness that I barely know where to start. This program might be marginally useful as some kind of research tool if you needed a lot of raw data on hand -my college dorm's Internet provision was erratic enough that caching every single page of every single reference website you might conceivably need to refer to would not have seemed like an entirely unreasonable precaution- but passing the results off as your own original research and selling them to anyone who doesn't know any better is at best unseemly, and getting the output to not read like it was written by an AI would be such a complete pain in the rear that you might as well have done it the old-fashioned way to begin with. God only knows what the poetry and romantic fiction he's planning on writing with this thing will read like.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    M., Apr 14th, 2008 @ 2:12pm

    Someone kill me puleeze!~

    This article was a waste of energy... electricty too.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Angela, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 3:38am

    Re: Cook me a book


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    al, Apr 18th, 2008 @ 12:45pm

    Re: Cook me a book

    Here's a money making adventure
    With all the subprime and house hunting opportunity,
    setup one for user to specify their wants, and out
    comes the perfect virtual house to live in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Mark, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 1:08am

    Nice that he's taking advantage of parents of children with leukemia

    I like the comments on "The Official Parent's Sourcebook on Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia". I mean, if you were a parent and your child had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, you'd probably buy everything you could on it hoping to help your child.

    And then it's just spam.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Chris, Apr 23rd, 2009 @ 2:07pm

    I think I found a website doing the same thing

    Check out:

    or maybe don't since they seem to be just trying to generate clicks. But it looks like the articles are all automatically written in this mad libs style and the website generates money through a generous use of Google Ads. It'll be funny when the book people take information from this website, eventually all knowledge will be recycled. Reminds me of the Foundation series by Asimov.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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