AI and other cognitive technologies—including algorithms, machine learning, natural language processing, robotic process automation, speech recognition, and rule-based systems—are already being used in sifting through incoming manuscripts, flagging editorial anomalies, detecting plagiarism, and accelerating internal production processes in the digital solutions and publishing industries. The goal is about reducing time to market, and since time is money in these industries, surely such technologies are worth their weight in gold, right? Well, not really, given that speculations of robot overlords taking over the world are fueling much skepticism and uncertainty.

Analyzing AI applications

Approaching AI in an open-minded way, without rushing to judgment, is the strategy at Klopotek. “We are reviewing where AI and generative AI can assist in easing the workload, making day-to-day processes easier, and increasing efficiency for our customers,” says Klopetek managing director Wolf-Michael Mehl, who is checking out potential AI applications in areas such as contract analysis, service support, and business intelligence analyses. “AI, in our mind, has always been a tool.”

Mehl, who is closely monitoring the development and implications of ChatGPT and generative AI, wants to further understand how these tools affect authors, copyright issues, and creative writing. “We want to know of any new guidelines or emerging standards on AI applications in the publishing industry, or regulations on AI that will support and/or change the publishing world,” he says.

For Sebastian Mayeres, CEO of KNK Software (U.S.), there are many advantageous applications of ChatGPT and generative AI. “In customer service, a great deal of goodwill is often lost when a client waits to speak to a human representative. So a well-built chatbot is reliable, factual, and inexhaustible, with the control easily transferred to a human as and when needed,” says Mayeres. “Publishers are also using AI to identify trends from reading data, to modify content or to reorder print quantities,” Mayeres says. “AI is also playing a big part in format conversion—from print to e-book or audio, for instance—and in metadata management for ONIX input and export.” Mayeres also adds that publishers are using AI to create and analyze royalty contracts, generate public reports, check copyrights, look for plagiarism, automate text formatting and analysis at the manuscript acquisition stage, and create cover art.

There is genuine business value in the above AI applications, says Knut Nicholas Krause, founder of KNK Group. “The question is how to implement AI successfully, and knowing where and how to start. Careful identification of the problem to be solved and clearly defined objectives are critical. That means having a well-defined scope with metrics to define its success. It must be something with real value and ROI to the whole company. At KNK, we consider these and more in every AI application and AI-related project that we undertake.”

Generative AI is changing the game in so many ways, and applications that KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd. (KGL) is investigating for its customers can be either significant time-saving tools or total nonstarters, depending on the market segment, the company says. “For example, we are experimenting with automated content creation that might be useful for educational publishers,” says marketing director Michael Groth. “AI application in generating media assets such as illustrations, animations, and design aspects also shows great potential. But such possibilities are alarming to publishers of scholarly content who are rightfully concerned about computer-generated manuscripts, image manipulation, and overall research integrity.”

Some areas offer more promise than others. “Using AI to generate alt text for images, for instance, can be a hit or miss, depending on the generative model used, and it cannot yet replace verification and revision by human experts,” Groth adds. “We have found much more success in media creation and editing, which is helpful for our educational publishing customers in areas such as storyboards and illustrations.”

KGL has rolled out AI-powered peer review tools for submission checks, reviewer identification, and conflict-of-interest detection. “Meanwhile, the jury is still out on whether AI-generated manuscripts will ever be successfully and consistently identified by AI detectors,” says Groth.

The KGL PubFactory platform recently facilitated an experiment with a ChatGPT-powered “conversational manuscript” for Neurosurgical Focus, a publication of Journal of Neurosurgery Publishing Group. An interface was embedded on the journal site to allow user interaction with the information in a specified article. “Due to issues of copyright, intellectual property, and possible false information resulting from general data ingestion by public AI, the interface responds only with information contained within the paper,” explains Groth, adding that JNSPG was then able to test-drive the enhancement in the reader experience and solicit feedback. (An overview by Gillian Shasby, JNSPG’s chief of publications, is available at

APA style is also grappling with the new questions raised by AI. A blog post on quoting and citing text generated by ChatGPT or other generative AI was published in April after soliciting and reviewing reader feedback, mostly from researchers, instructors, students, academic librarians, editors, and copyeditors. “The guidelines are largely limited to how one creates a reference for ChatGPT, or other large language models, and where in a research paper one should acknowledge that they used the tool,” says Timothy McAdoo, a manager on the APA Style team, which also received numerous related queries including: Should students and authors be allowed to use generative AI? Is it plagiarism? Can AI be credited as a manuscript author? What are the copyright implications?

“Some of these questions will be addressed as publishers create policies for manuscript submission,” says McAdoo. “As we collect information about those kinds of policies, we will be able to provide readers with some general guidance and best practices. And of course, APA Style fully supports the policies outlined in APA journals, including one that reiterates that AI cannot be named as an author in an APA scholarly publication.”

McAdoo and his team have also collected feedback from instructors on whether and how they are addressing their students’ use of generative AI. “We will continue to solicit their feedback before developing any official guidelines,” McAdoo says. “We have also taken note of the updates to ChatGPT, for instance, and we are considering how these impact our initial guidelines. Our APA style website and blog will continue to share guidelines about these topics.”

Diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, and trends

The buzzwords in the communities that KGL serves these days include AI, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. “While some of these trends may appear to fall outside the realm of ‘digital solutions,’ they do inform much of the work that we do for publishers and are certainly hot topics on the event and webinar circuit,” says Groth.

DEI, for instance, has become an important goal for clients across market sectors at KGL. “Publishers want to make their content more inclusive and representative of today’s learners, but are not sure how,” says Groth, whose team has issued a white paper titled “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Educational Content: What You Need to Know Now” based on experience working with K-12 and higher education publishers. “Scholarly publishers and societies are similarly prioritizing DEI initiatives across the author, editor, and reviewer bases. So, our editorial group has launched a bias awareness training program to help reduce disparities in journal programs and help our clients to meet their goals on the way to publication.”

The APA style team is paying close attention to inclusivity. “We want to ensure that all readers feel included and that research and scholarship accurately represent the human experience,” explains Emily Ayubi, APA Style senior director. “Our guidance on inclusive language is rooted in psychological science and research conducted with real people who tell us what language they want others to use when referring to them.” To that end, the APA plans to release the second edition of its inclusive language guidelines, which supplement guidance in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, later this year. New sections will cover topics including body size and weight stigma, pregnancy, neurodiversity, and more substantive information on the mental health impacts of structural and systemic racism. Ayubi and her team have also developed new journal article reporting standards for culture, ethnicity, and race.

Sustainability remains a big topic at Klopotek, Mehl says. “When it comes to developing our software, this question is always on our mind: how can our apps also support publishers with more sustainable options? Sustainability, in recent years, has become an integral part of our solutions, and not as an afterthought or nice-to-have addition. Presently, we are looking at new ONIX specifications which incorporate sustainability information in metadata exports and figuring out ways to assist our clients who are adopting these new guidelines.”

For Klopotek, the partnership aspect of doing business with organizations from the publishing world takes center stage. “Our task is to build bridges between two separate elements that need to be brought together,” explains chief customer officer Nella Klopotek von Glowczewski. “Publishing is a very specific process catering to the needs of specific target groups in specific regions. So knowing each other is important. However, crucial challenges in the industry—including fragmented audiences and cross-media demands, supply chain pressures that cannot be tackled in isolation, and digitization requiring products to be brought to market quicker in multiple formats—can only be successfully addressed collaboratively with an international mindset.” So Klopotek software and services are now being specifically tailored to the publishing industry while incorporating best practices from all over the globe.

Consumer behavior and social trends, along with emerging technologies such as marketing automation systems and AI, will continue to reshape the publishing industry, adds Krause of KNK Group. “New content formats, varied product bundling, and the incorporation of multimedia will provide a much wider and more immersive range of offerings, including interactive fiction and continued development of AR, VR, and mixed reality,” says Krause. “I foresee more enhancements in reader intent management and advertising as publishers and media companies continue to build their reader communities.”

This feature is published with the support of the companies covered in these articles.

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Establishing a set of writing style guidelines to make scholarly communication more effective and easier to understand has been the goal of the American Psychological Association’s APA Style since 1929.

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Frankfurt Book Fair 2023: Adopting AI and Assisting Publishers at KNK Software
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