The Future of AI in Publishing

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Hopkins Press Executive Director Barbara Kline PopeA Conversation with Hopkins Press Executive Director Barbara Kline Pope


What does AI mean for the future of publishing? Johns Hopkins University Press Executive Director Barbara Kline Pope recently sat down for a virtual conversation with John Warren, the Director and Associate Professor in the Masters of Professional Studies in Publishing program at George Washington University, and Bradley Metrock, the Executive Producer of Digital Book World 2024, to discuss how AI will change publishing. This conversation was partly inspired by a recent article in Publishers Weekly by Thad McIlroy titled, “AI is About to Turn Book Publishing Upside-Down.” 

“AI is one of the most exciting things to happen since the birth of the internet,” Kline Pope said. “I share the perspective [of Thad McIlroy’s article] of endless possibilities for publishing while recognizing there are issues.” 

AI has the potential to revolutionize all aspects of publishing, from content creation to marketing to production to data analytics and more. “The low-hanging fruit of AI is marketing,” Kline Pope said. She noted that generative AI is going to allow us to go from the mundane to the creative. “We have so much to do in publishing, particularly in marketing. Every idea you have you can’t implement, but if the mundane is taken care of by AI, [we can be] more creative,” Kline Pope said. 

They discussed the opportunities of using AI to reinvigorate backlist marketing across thousands of books and journals. Warren provided students' perspectives on generative AI, recognizing their broad range of views. “It’s going to touch all aspects of publishing and really all aspects of society,” Warren said. He noted that he agrees with McIlroy in the Publishers Weekly article: “You can only understand the perils surrounding a new technology after you fully appreciate the opportunities that it affords.” Warren hopes that AI will not replace the entry-level positions that his students need in order to learn how to be successful in higher-level positions. 

In terms of the fraught relationship between AI and protecting intellectual property, Kline Pope quoted her former colleague Michael Jensen, a technologist who said, “Our concern is not piracy; it’s obscurity” in university press publishing. While the rapid expansion of AI raises concerns about piracy and authorship, it also represents the compelling possibility to make scholarly publishing more accessible and engaging than ever. 

Watch their entire interview here or below to learn more about the exciting frontier that AI presents for the future of publishing.

Written by: Kris Lykke
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