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[Publishing & AI]

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Use Cases
in the Korean Publishing Market




At the 75th Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany this past October, a program dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI) was the center of attention. Stakeholders in the publishing industry, including writers, publishers, bookstores, and readers, have entered an era where books are being created and used in a completely different way. AI is shaking up the entire publishing industry. In particular, generative AI, such as ChatGPT and Midjourney, is rapidly being adopted in the process of writing and distributing books. At the same time, the industry is also facing new challenges, such as the need to prevent inappropriate use of AI. In the international publishing market, books written in whole or in part by generative AI are already popping up in online stores. In fact, Amazon’s Kindle e-book store has more than 1,000 titles listed.
Since AI is highly skilled at editing data, it can reduce the amount of time writers need to spend editing their original work. It can also automate laborious processes such as text analysis, formatting, personalization, and translation. This allows writers to focus on research and content. At the same time, publishers can also use AI to recommend better topics to writers based on its fast and extensive ability to analyze reader needs. Thus, it will become commonplace for AI to make the work of publishing content planning and production more efficient and effective.
Recently, the Korean publishing market has been discussing the impact of AI, and several initiatives have emerged. From the perspective of “book tech,” AI and the publishing industry are rapidly converging. In addition to traditional publishing content such as paperbacks, e-books, and audiobooks, AI is also creating new results in the production and distribution of content such as webnovels and webtoons, in which Korea leads the global market. In this article, we will take a look at how the Korean publishing market is being affected by AI and how it is responding and envisioning the future with key examples.


AI is reshaping the publishing industry.


Creating a book in a fraction of the time with generative AI


In February 2023, the book 45 Ways to Find Your Life’s Purpose (Snowfox Books) was published in Korea. It was written by ChatGPT and translated into Korean by Naver’s translation program Papago. The book is a self-help book that offers advice on how to lead a happy life with a clear sense of purpose through 45 chapters on topics such as relationships, satisfaction, and happiness. The cover illustration was created by Shutterstock AI, a generative AI that specializes in making images. The book was completed in just seven days, from writing to proofreading and printing.
According to the publisher, the book’s title and table of contents were not generated by AI. It was selected from a list of projects in which the publisher missed the timing after development, did not meet the right writer, or the level of planning was not satisfactory to the publisher. It was only by utilizing ChatGPT and Papago that the publisher was able to drastically shorten the conventional publishing timeframe of months or even years, which would include the writer’s writing period, the translator’s translation period, the editor’s editing and proofreading, and the proofreading and printing period. ChatGPT generated essays of 3,000 characters each to match the table of contents, and the publisher used Papago to translate all 135 pages of the original English text in two hours.


45 Ways to Find Your Life’s Purpose, written by ChatGPT and translated by Papago.

45 Ways to Find Your Life’s Purpose,
written by ChatGPT and translated by Papago.



Utilizing bestseller searches and book recommendations


In May 2023, Naver introduced “Smart Block,” an AI-powered book recommendation feature that helps users find the books they want faster. It not only recommends books similar to the one you are looking for, but also finds and displays bestsellers in the field. This Smart Block feature is a model that applies AiTEMS, a product recommendation system based on AI technology, to the book search service. Users can effectively utilize it when conducting further searches to find books similar to the ones they searched for.
AiTEMS is a deep learning-based system that recommends products by learning and analyzing personal interests and tastes based on user data. It also discovers and introduces books that similar users showed interest in. If you search for essays on the topic of “healing,” it will also recommend other essay books related to healing, comfort, human relations, psychology, and happiness. If you search for books on stock investment, it will recommend books based on your interest in stocks, such as economics, finance, and investment. And, if you click on a recommended book, you will be directed to the book’s category, where you can utilize comprehensive book-related content such as retailer information, book critiques, and reviews. As a result, the competition between searching in existing online bookstores and AI-recommended book searching is expected to intensify.


A quick Naver search for 45 Ways to Find Your Life’s Purpose will bring up a list of bestsellers in the field.

A quick Naver search for 45 Ways to Find Your Life’s Purpose will bring up a list of bestsellers in the field.



Reducing audiobook production costs and increasing user-friendliness


The changing media landscape has brought about many changes in readers’ attitudes. This is because people are not only reading books, but also “listening” to them. Previously, audiobooks were produced by professional narrators, such as voice actors and newscasters, who read the text sentence by sentence. Due to high production costs, the content quantity was small, and the interest and utilization of publishers and readers were low. However, with the recent integration of AI into the audiobook market, production costs have been drastically reduced, and it has developed to a level similar to human speech. To take advantage of the new market conditions, companies are actively investing in audio content production and distribution.
In March 2023, the audiobook platform Welaaa developed a high-quality playback technology for audiobooks based on AI through an industry-academia collaboration with Hanyang University. This is the world’s first clustering-based AI playback technology to be commercialized for audiobook services, and it minimizes sound quality cracks and inaccuracies during high-speed playback, such as 1.5x and 2x, allowing natural and clear content playback even at high speeds. Members who have experienced the audiobook playback service are highly satisfied. “We were very hopeful that AI would help alleviate the time burden of reading and provide a new alternative to increase reading, and we are seeing positive results,” said an official from Welaaa.
In May 2023, telecommunications company KT unveiled an audiobook featuring an “Announcer AI Voice” in conjunction with Millie, the book subscription service provider. The content was created with the “My AI Voice” technology of KT’s AI Voice Studio. This is a technology that can produce AI voices with vivid emotions by recording only 30 sentences. It is characterized by clear pronunciation and accurate delivery that gives listeners trust. To date, 17 “Announcer AI Voices” have been created in conjunction with actual newscasters. In terms of books, there are currently four liberal arts and self-help books, including Money, Me, and Work (Alone Book) by Lee Won-Ji and 12 other writers, Studying Life to Change Tomorrow (Media Soop) by Shin Shin-Sang, 30 Great Economics Classics in One Book (Big Fish) by Hong Ki-Hoon, and Snack Humanities (Stable) by Timesnack.


“Announcer AI Voice” audiobooks from KT and Millie

“Announcer AI Voice” audiobooks from KT and Millie



Increasing the efficiency of webnovel and webtoon production process


In the webnovel market, dominated by big tech companies such as Naver and Kakao, startups are creating a new wave. They provide creative tools that are completely different from the existing webnovel platforms and encourage users to participate as the main characters. The story tech ecosystem is growing, helping not only professional writers but also ordinary people to easily write webnovels and create secondary works.
Writinggel, a natural language processing AI-powered writing service launched in December 2021, offers a webnovel package. Writers input the basic elements of their story, and the AI suggests an introduction and a plot. Writers can choose the genre, protagonist, location, subject, and theme of the story, and once the introduction is generated, the writer is free to continue building on it. It is used by people who are interested in webnovels but are intimidated to start writing one, or by writers who have difficulty generating ideas.
The use of AI in the webtoon industry spans from generative AI that creates new webtoon images to functions that assist writers. Kakao is actively sharing its image-generating AI, Karlo, with the industry. Karlo learns from 300 million images and texts to understand user input and create new images. It also understands sentence expressions of objects, backgrounds, lighting, composition, and style combinations, and quickly generates images of the desired concept. The goal is to help webtoon artists fulfill their imagination and significantly save time when drawing and coloring images.
Meanwhile, launched by Naver Webtoon in October 2021, “AI Painter” is a feature that allows AI trained by extracting data from 300,000 webtoons to naturally color characters’ faces, bodies, and backgrounds. An official from NAVER Webtoon said, “AI Painter has colored 720,000 webtoons by authors for about a year and two months since its launch, and we are expecting to reduce the work time of authors by 30 to 50 percent compared to before.”
There are also famous artists who have actively utilized AI technology in their creative work. Lee Hyun-Se, the writer of the comic book The Terrifying Mercenary Baseball Team (Haksan Publishing), is working with Jaedam Media to teach AI 4,174 volumes of comics he has drawn over the past 44 years. The goal is to make it possible for AI to draw not only his worldview but also his artistic style even after his death. Lee Hyun-Se will release a new work utilizing AI in the second half of 2023.


AI has made it possible to create content more efficiently and effectively.


Expectations and concerns are high, but the challenges will continue


As promising as the new developments in AI and the publishing industry are, there are also many concerns. In particular, copyright is an important issue surrounding generative AI, which learns and combines a large amount of data to produce new creations. There are two sides to the debate: those who argue that using other people’s works in AI learning should be prevented to protect creators, and those who argue that copyright should be exempted to facilitate the development of the AI industry.
Over-utilization of AI can diminish our ability to think and create creatively. There are many books that contain general knowledge and information, but relatively few that contain human empirical wisdom. While AI is great at processing and summarizing information, there will be a growing need for authors who can share their wisdom in an authoritative manner. Therefore, it is necessary to use AI to help authors expand their intellectual imagination or refine how to use their creative time efficiently.
AI will further transform publishing marketing, following in the footsteps of the creative sector. Algorithmic recommendation systems powered by machine learning will leverage user data to be more customized and enhance the reader experience. These technologies will enable publishers and bookstores to improve marketing performance by analyzing customer behavior and reading preferences. This is where the Korean publishing market should focus its investments and expect future growth through the use of AI.
Alongside the opportunities that AI creates for the publishing market, there are also challenges to adopting AI. These include the lack of skills in the workforce as technology advances, changes in the structure of publishing jobs, access to technology, and ethical concerns. All parties in the publishing industry will need to respond to these challenges by establishing rational business strategies and ethical guidelines.


- AI finds best sellers at Naver Search, Electronic Times, May 30, 2023
- KT and Millie Releases 4 “Announcer AI Voice” Audiobooks, Economic Today, May 31, 2023
- AI Webtoon, Done in 10 Seconds, Dong-A Ilbo, June 20, 2023



Written by Ryu Young-Ho (General Manager of IP Business Team, Kyobo Book Centre)



Ryu Young-Ho (General Manager of IP Business Team, Kyobo Book Centre)

#Generative AI#AI#ChatGPT#Deep learning#Audiobook
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