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Bloomsbury Chief Warns of AI Threat To Publishing

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Bloomsbury Publishing CEO warns of AI threat to the industry, citing tech giants’ use of author works to train AI programs while reporting record first-half results driven by fantasy novel sales.

The chief executive of Bloomsbury Publishing has warned of the threat of artificial intelligence to the publishing industry, saying tech groups are already using authors’ work to train generative AI programs. From a report:

Nigel Newton, who signed Harry Potter author JK Rowling to Bloomsbury in the 1990s, also said ministers needed to urgently address competition concerns between large US tech groups and the publishing industry, given their increasing market dominance in selling books worldwide. The warning came as Bloomsbury reported its highest-ever first-half results on the back of the boom in fantasy novels, leading the publisher to boost its interim dividend. The group said revenues grew 11% to $165.7 million, sending profits 11% higher at $21.4 million for the six months to August 31.

Newton pointed to the “huge” growth in fantasy novels, with sales of books by Sarah J Maas and Samantha Shannon growing 79% and 169%, respectively, in the period and demand for Harry Potter books, 26 years after publication, remaining strong. The next Maas book, scheduled for January, has already received “staggering” pre-orders of 750,000 copies for the hardback edition, he said, underscoring the resurgence of the book-selling industry. The group’s consumer division will publish new books in the expanding Harry Potter franchise – such as a new Wizarding Almanac this autumn.

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