It’s one of those cliches that everyone’s got a book inside them. And that doesn’t mean you’ve just chewed your way through War and Peace, but that we all have one novel sitting inside our brains, unwritten, just waiting to hit the Kindle bestseller list. However, writing a novel is tough—all those words, all those ideas, plus you have to put it all together in a narrative unless you want to go all Joycean—but then you’ll never get rich quick.
So, why not let an algorithm do the hard work for you? They owe us anyway for letting them take over the world. This is what programmer Philip M. Parker, a professor at INSEAD, has created: an algorithmic system that takes raw data from internet searches and databases and magics it into book form using a template, so that us non-machines can digest it easier. He’s managed to create hundreds of thousands of books this way and lots of them are for sale on Amazon through his name and his company EdgeMaven Media.
But before any budding Dostoevskys start getting paranoid, the books aren’t the sort of prose we’d consider literature. Instead these automated creations are compilations and reports which follow a certain formula and are generated after people pick a specific topic they want to know about. So it’s books about fascinating topics like The 2007-2012 World Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats (a snip at $795) or Webster’s English to Haitian Creole Crossword Puzzles: Level 1—still a better love story than Twilight though.