Publishing Perspectives Forum: ‘The State of AI in Publishing Today’

In News by Porter Anderson

A panel in the PP Forum in Frankfurt, moderated by Thomas Cox, looks at how AI is already influencing the book publishing business today.

Thomas Cox. Arq Works

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘This Is No Longer Hypothetical’
Aiming to get past the noise of competing narratives, promises, and issues around artificial intelligence, the Publishing Perspectives Forum is hosting a session on “The State of AI in Publishing Today.”

This 45-minute discussion is at 12 p.m. on Thursday, October 19, and our intent with this part of our PP Forum programming is to take a breath and listen to several knowledgeable, experienced professionals talk about “The State of AI in Publishing Today”—an attempt to get past the noise of dueling anecdotes and competing melodrama, nasty narratives and promises of tech-driven nirvana.

Our speakers are:

  • Christoph Bläsi, professor for book studies at Johannes Gutenberg University (Mainz)
  • Nadim Sadek, founding CEO of Shimmr AI (London)
  • Anna Soler-Pont, literary agent and Founder, Pontas Literary & Film Agency (Barcelona)
  • Moderator: Thomas Cox (Oxford), managing director of Arq Works and co-founder of Veristage

Sorting through existing concerns and looking as much for the potential benefits as for the worrisome elements of the whole AI construct in this conversation will come in several stages of discussion.

For example, you’ll hear Nadim Sadek, who has developed the new Shimmr.AI approach to book discoverability, talk about where AI sits among other tech revolutions. In other words, how can we accurately get some perspective on this quickly evolving dynamic?

From the widely familiar Barcelona-based agent Anna Soler-Pont, you’ll get a feel for the real-world implications for agents and authors, as well as contractual and rights-related considerations.

From the eloquent book studies specialist from Gutenberg University, Christoph Bläsi, one of the best bits of perspectives might lie in his answer to the question, “How do the promises of AI fit into a systematic understanding of publishing?”

In talking with Cox, we get some keenly helpful perspective on the topic, and a sense for what you can expect from this session in the Publishing Perspectives Forum. Cox spoke to us in February at length for an interview that many of our international readership have found helpful. We still get comments on this story. His own experience with OpenAI and other elements of the AI industry have helped him develop a viewpoint that neither minimizes the potential impact of AI nor hypes the probabilities of where things are heading.

Thomas Cox: ‘Real-World Impact AI is Having Today’

“Going into Frankfurt,” Cox says, “it’s apparent that the tech hype around AI and large language models is at its peak.

“Each person you speak to has his or her own perspective on the acceptable and unacceptable uses of AI in publishing, making the ethical boundaries very subjective.”Thomas Cox, Arq Works, Veristage

“Keeping up with daily announcements of new products, court cases, and regulatory updates is increasingly demanding. While initial excitement usually fades with most new tech advancements (for instance blockchain), AI feels different. It has the potential to fundamentally disrupt not just our industry, but many others.

“In the discussion at Publishing Perspectives Forum, we aim to explore the real-world impact AI is having today and its future implications for the wider industry.

“This is no longer hypothetical; real-world products are already in use. AI is evident in translation, screenplay adaptation, narration, and even in production and editorial processes. AI applies to almost every step of the publication process, from manuscript vetting to post-publication marketing.

“What remains unclear is the overall impact of incorporating AI into all these aspects, both on the industry and society at large.

“AI will undoubtedly be a hot topic in Frankfurt. Questions are being asked about the future of publishing: will only a select few authors rise above the noise to see their content produced, translated, and narrated by humans?

“Each person you speak to has his or her own perspective on the acceptable and unacceptable uses of AI in publishing, making the ethical boundaries very subjective.

“On a personal note,” Cox says, “over the last 12 months, I’ve been learning how best to work alongside AI in developing new products. An often-overlooked point in the discussion around AI in publishing is its immediate impact on software development.

“Large language models like ChatGPT are being used by developers to craft code quickly,” Cox says. “There’s no moral dilemma regarding software code, so adoption has been very rapid, with the majority of developers now using these tools daily. This significantly boosts productivity.

“However, the implications for newcomers to the industry are a concern.”

And thus, Thursday’s noon session in the PP Forum is one that many will want to catch for a level-headed assessment from key practitioners in the field.

There are more programming previews and insights in our Frankfurt Book Fair Magazine, which will be distributed on October 18, in print at the trade show and digitally here at Publishing Perspectives.

The magazine has previews of programming from our Publishing Perspectives Forum at Frankfurt including our Executive Talks with Penguin Random House worldwide CEO Nihar Malaviya and Nanmeebooks’ Kim Chongsatitwana; highlights of key events at the 75th Frankfurter Buchmesse; and coverage of Frankfurt’s upcoming guest of honor programs (Italy, the Philippines, the Czech Republic) and this year’s Guest of Honor Slovenia.

There’s also news of literary agents and agencies; award-winning books from guest of honor markets; focus articles on artificial intelligence, sustainability; and a forthcoming effort to get more Korean literature into world markets; as well as 75th-anniversary “Frankfurt Moments.” Be sure to get your copy of the magazine when you arrive at Buchmesse on Wednesday, or download it here at Publishing Perspectives.

More on publishing technology is here, more on digital publishing is here, more on publishing and innovation is here, and more on publishing and artificial intelligence is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.