Today in Books

Author Challenges ChatGPT to Write a Better Beach Read

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Rebecca Joines Schinsky

Chief of Staff

Rebecca Joines Schinsky is the executive director of product and ecommerce at Riot New Media Group. She co-hosts All the Books! and the Book Riot Podcast. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccaschinsky.

Welcome to Today in Books, our daily round-up of literary headlines at the intersection of politics, culture, media, and more.

Comics Are Booming

Penguin Random House is set to acquire Boom! Studios, the comics and graphic novels publisher behind beloved original series like Lumberjanes and Mouse Guard, a host of nostalgia-inflected licensed adaptations (Labyrinth, Fraggle Rock, The Dark Crystal), and Keanu Reeve’s BRZRKR. Details of the deal, which will be finalized later this summer, are not yet public. This comes hot on the heels of Webtoon’s $315 million IPO, another indication that while sales of graphic novels are down 16.1% in the first half of this year, they remain a hot commodity as major publishers seek to diversify their offerings amidst ongoing consolidation.

Straight Trippin’

McKay’s, a used bookstore chain with five locations in North Carolina and Tennessee, is celebrating its 50th anniversary with an epic road trip. Customers who visit all five stores—a one-way trip of nearly 600 miles— will receive $800 in store credit, a commemorative t-shirt, and other swag. That’s a lot of time and effort. Is it worth it? For the hundreds of people who lined up at the starting line on Tuesday, the answer was a resounding yes. I find this response pretty surprising, but then again, $800 goes a long way in a used bookstore.

I’m curious, folks: would you spend a full day and probably $150 in gas money for a round of literary gotta-catch-em-all? Chat it up in the comments.

Bot vs. Beach Read

In a stunt I can’t believe we haven’t seen already, a bestselling author is publicly challenging ChatGPT to a writing competition. Curtis Sittenfeld is inviting readers to help select five elements that will form prompts for a 1,000-word story—options include “kissing,” “privilege,” “constipation,” “The Midwest,” “swimsuits,” “regret,” and “ennui,” among others—that ChatGPT will be told to write in Sittenfeld’s style. She will follow the same instructions, and, I guess, some point about human creativity will be made in the process. This feels both inevitable and completely unnecessary when AI is still best thought of as an intern with advanced math skills and an encyclopedic memory, but if it reassures writers who are (quite reasonably) afraid for the future and angry that AI companies used their copyrighted work to train LLMs without their permission, fine.

11 Books That Will Keep You Up All Night

It’s one of the best moments you can have as a reader: you’re all tucked in with your book, your eyes are getting heavy, and then…you realize you can’t stop turning the pages. You know you’re going to pay for it tomorrow, but tonight, you’re staying up. Here are 11 books that are worth the lost Zzzzs.


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