AI-generated books are flooding Kindle lock screens, and Amazon doesn’t care

Kindle Paperwhite against wood backdrop

Nina Raemont/ZDNET

Amazon Kindle owners who use the ad-supported version of the device say they’re being inundated with ads for AI-generated books, Futurism reported, citing complaints on Reddit and social media platforms. Many of the books don’t appear to be popular and haven’t garnered strong reviews on Amazon’s website, according to the report.

“I’ve owned a Kindle for 10 years or so now,” one Reddit user wrote. “I’ve never minded the ads on them… until they became flooded with AI-generated books.”

Many of the AI-generated books, including “The Secret Adventures of the Magical Forest” and “The Boy and the Monsters,” appear to be tailored to children, according to the report. Still others appear to copy excerpts from other books, Futurism says. They also tend to have similar illustrations.

Also: The best Kindles you can buy: Expert tested

Amazon’s Kindle is the world’s most popular e-reader, allowing users to take their digital books with them on the go. While Amazon offers a range of Kindles that aren’t ad-supported, it sells ad-supported models for $20 off their sticker price. In return, Amazon displays ads on the Kindle’s lock screen. At any point, however, users can turn the ads off by forking over a one-time payment of $20.

According to Futurism, the AI-generated books are showing up in those lock screen ads. And they’re doing it at a much greater rate than they had been previously. Oddly, Amazon told Futurism in a statement that “all books in the store must adhere to our content guidelines, regardless of how the content was created. We both proactively prevent books from being listed as well as remove books that do not adhere to those guidelines. Amazon’s ad policies aim to maintain a high customer experience bar for the ads that we show and all ads must meet Amazon Advertising Guidelines and Acceptance policies.”

To be sure, AI-generated books are not necessarily a bad thing, assuming they tell compelling stories and don’t copy an author’s work. Amazon also made clear that AI-generated books aren’t banned from its bookstore — and as of this writing, the books Futurism cites are still available for purchase. What’s perhaps most interesting is that the books are on Amazon’s ad network and seemingly doing such a good job at getting displayed on Kindle screens that users are complaining.

Whether those complaints bring about change is unclear. Amazon didn’t say the company will remove the AI-generated books from its ad network or its store. And while the ads may be annoying to some, it’s hard to say whether a large number of those complaining will hand over $20 to remove the ads.

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