04 March 2008

automatic book generator

Came across this through some path I can't reconstruct.

Philip M Parker, a professor of management science at Insead, the international business school based in Fontainebleau, France, patented what he calls a "method and apparatus for automated authoring and marketing". Turn to page 16 of his patent, and you will see him answer the "Why?" question.

Parker quotes a 1999 complaint by the Economist that publishing "has continued essentially unchanged since Gutenberg. Letters are still written, books bound, newspapers printed and distributed much as they ever were."

"Therefore," says Parker, "there is a need for a method and apparatus for authoring, marketing, and/or distributing title materials automatically by a computer." He explains that "further, there is a need for an automated system that eliminates or substantially reduces the costs associated with human labour, such as authors, editors, graphic artists, data analysts, translators, distributors, and marketing personnel."

The book-writing machine works simply, at least in principle. First, one feeds it a recipe for writing a particular genre of book - a tome about crossword puzzles, say, or a market outlook for products. Then hook the computer up to a big database full of info about crossword puzzles or market information. The computer uses the recipe to select data from the database and write and format it into book form.

Parker estimates that it costs him about 12p to write a book, with, perhaps, not much difference in quality from what a competent wordsmith or an MBA might produce.

Nothing but the title need actually exist until somebody orders a copy. At that point, a computer assembles the book's content and prints up a single copy.

So far, Parker's books include The 2007 Import and Export Market for Ferrous Metal Waste and Scrap Excluding Waste and Scrap of Cast Iron and Alloy Steel in United Kingdom, Oculocutaneous Albinism - A Bibliography and Dictionary for Physicians, Patients and Genome Researchers, and The 2007-2012 Outlook for Lemon-Flavored Bottled Water in Japan. A dozen more of his thrillers can be found on Amazon.com.

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