In the first of an ongoing series of articles spotlighting book business–related AI startups, we take a look at Hypnovels, a book trailers and video generator, and Maven, a publisher that allows you to ask questions of books through WhatsApp.

Hypnovels promises fast, easy, and sticky book videos

Meryl Moss, founder of Meryl Moss Media, and P.J. Pereira, an Emmy Award–winning writer and advertising executive, have collaborated to launch Hypnovels, an AI-powered platform that produces book trailesr and other, longer video teasers.

"We believe that the future of storytelling is in the convergence of different media," Pereira said. "By combining the best of print, digital, and audio, we can create a more engaging and immersive experience for readers. By offering a glimpse into the story's world, Hypnovels seeks to capture readers' attention and encourage them to explore the full book.”

The process of creating a Hypnovel is designed to be simple and user-friendly, making it accessible to authors of all levels. "It's a couple of clicks," explained Moss. "It's not hours and hours. All you do is upload your chapter, you say a few words about the plot and background, you pick a setting, you pick a voice, and then you go have dinner, and you come back, and there you have it."

The result is often a somewhat surreal, sometimes abstract video derived from the content and themes of the books. Pereira calls these "visual experiments."

The idea for the company came to Pereira while he was looking for ways to promote his novel, The Girl from Wudang (Tuttle), which includes an AI character., “So, thjs is something that comes from the artists themselves,” he explained. To this end, the creators retain the copyright for all material shared with and produced by Hypnovels.

While Hypnovels is currently in beta testing, the team behind the platform plans to eventually introduce a monthly subscription model for authors. The company has already produced videos for numerous public domain works as a proof of concept, and Hypnovels will be showcased at PW's upcoming U.S. Book Show, where attendees can try the tech for themselves.

Looking ahead, Hypnovels aims to expand its offerings to include support for multiple languages and provide opportunities for voice actors to train their own models and monetize their work. "The vision for that is that this is a format. It's also an economy," Pereira said. "It's a format for readers and for authors, but it's also an economy for the artists."

Maven lets readers query and converse with books

Maven, a Dutch publishing house focused on nonfiction books about human behavior, has developed an innovative AI-powered platform that allows readers to interact with books through WhatsApp. The technology, which Maven calls "AI books," aims to enhance the reading experience by enabling users to ask questions and receive personalized responses based on the book's content.

Sander Ruys, the founder of Maven, explained the concept: "We actually took a regular book, the full manuscript, and then added artificial intelligence to that text so that you can talk to the text. It starts behaving as a language model." He emphasized that this is a new format for books, distinct from e-books and audiobooks, as it allows for a conversational interaction with the text.

Maven has already done rights deals with three Dutch publishers, and is beta testing titles with publishers and agents in the U.S., U.K., Germany, and Sweden. Five Dutch books have been published so far, covering such topics as parenting, relationships, mental resilience, and stoicism. They include the Dutch titles (translated here to English): Sorry, Honey by Anne de Jong, Mindgym by Wouter de Jong, Help, I Have a Teenager by Kluun, Learning to See Better by Stefan van der Stigchel, and Flow by Mark Tuitert. Maven has also released an AI edition of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, which allows readers to ask questions of an AI representing the second-century Roman emperor.

“The technology is particularly well-suited for educational and self-help books, where readers often seek specific answers or guidance,” Ruys said. While the technology is still in its early stages, Maven is actively working with publishers and authors to refine the user experience. Authors are engaged in the process, ensuring that the AI-generated responses accurately reflect their tone and style. Ruys emphasized that for books under copyright, the technology generates responses based on the text rather than providing exact quotes.

One of the key advantages of Maven's AI book technology, Ruys asserted, is that it is accessible only to the rights holder. "No one else except the publisher and the author is positioned to sell this book," van der Vorst explained. "If the large language models have sucked up these books, they're still not allowed to sell anything related to it, whereas we provide a potential path to monetization.”

For more information on the intersections of the technology and publishing spaces, visit our Book Publishing Startups Database.