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).