The raise of the creative robot: this is not a sci-fi, old b-movie title. It’s the new reality we are going to deal with. Also in publishing.

Lately, we have read about machines that can reproduce (at least, to an extent) human creativity. From robots on stage to those who write novels and win literary awards, and those who contribute to the first AI-written (but still human-edited and produced) literary magazine. Of course, such developments open the door to some negative, fearmongering, dystopic, Matrix-like picture of the future, where super-intelligent machines will control the world, thus changing human nature. And to some naively optimistic views as well, in which machines eventually would be deployed to fine-tune society’s workings thanks to an ethical use of statistical modeling programs that will reveal “how things such as ideas, decisions, mood, or the seasonal flu are spread in the community.”

Publishing and Creativity

Publishing deals with how to better produce and sell creative products. So, the two related questions publishers ask themselves are: how good is this product? How much of it (if any) will I be able to sell? In other words, publishers need to know more about their customers’ tastes and habits. Now, wouldn’t it be nice and easy if the mathematical underpinnings of customers’ satisfaction were available on a phone app?

Metadata, Performing Arts, and Publishing

“Modeling of performing arts metadata is considered one of the most challenging problems,” say AI-researchers Pierfrancesco Bellini and Paolo Nesi. But, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. So, these researchers came up with a semantic model that allow to understand and get information on users’ interest about more than “170.000 multilingual content” performances.

To be able to understand readers’ preferences fully is publishers’ Shangri-la. Understandably, lots of people have already made plans to move there. Some are thinking about the advantages of metadata analysis performed by AI software. “Technology has broadened the opportunity to ensure [that] future best-selling novels are not overlooked. Data will act as an equalizer, giving every author a fair and equal opportunity to get published,” claims Inkitt’s founder and CEO Ali Albazaz. “Data-driven publishing is just the beginning of turning the book selection process at publishing houses into a science. Instead of going through the pitch-rejection process, data will be able to identify genre, style and subject preferences for publishing houses based on reader response.” Of course, knowing genre-breakers James Joyce’s and Stephen King’s multiple-rejections stories, readers will cringe at such claims.

Focus on Customers, Build Relationships

Since machines don’t seem willing to take risks, the human factor plays a vital role in marketing. In fact, a combination of real-time personalization and artificial intelligence will grab the attention of the attendees at FUSE, the summit on the convergence of technology and media, next week in Philadelphia. Reach Marketing’s CEO, Greg Grdodian, says that technology will help “convert every eyeball into a lead for advertisers.” And Boomtrain’s co-founder and CEO, Nick Edwards, states that since “the competitive advantage of distribution has faded […] now we look at a new competitive advantage: relevancy. AI provides contextual relevancy for any individual to connect people to relevant content at the right time and in the right context,” thus creating “a 1:1 relationship with consumers.”

The AI Media Business Revolution

In the sea of 500,000-plus English-language books published every year, discoverability has become the king of publishing and customer relationship its queen. So audience development directors focus on both how to make their products more visible to customers and how to please them while studying the importance of emotions in AI systems.

AI-fueled programs, then, can help publishers find more creative solutions to their primary concern: how to better know, reach, and relate to customers. And it seems appropriate that, in the search for the best human-robot-human ménage à trois, Harlequin is leading with a new app able to collect data about readers’ behaviors.loving-robots