A number of readers are calling out Tor Books over the cover art of Gothikana by RuNyx, published by Tor's romance imprint Bramble on January 23, which incorporates AI-generated assets in its design.

On February 9, BookTok influencer @emmaskies identified two Adobe Stock images that had been used for the book's cover, both of which include the phrase "Generative AI" in their titles and are flagged on the Adobe Stock website as "generated with AI."

"We cannot allow AI-generated anything to infiltrate creative spaces because they are not just going to stop at covers," says @emmaskies in the video. She goes on to suggest that the use of such images is a slippery slope, imagining a publishing industry in the near future in which AI-generated images supplant cover artists, AI language models replace editorial staff, and AI models make acquisition judgements.

The video has since garnered more than 64,000 views. Her initial analysis of the cover, in which she alleged but had not yet confirmed the use of AI-generated images, received more than 300,000 views and 35,000 likes.

This is not the first time that Tor has attracted criticism online for using AI-generated assets in book cover designs. When Tor unveiled the cover of Christopher Paolini's sci-fi thriller Fractal Noise in November 2022, the publisher was quickly met with criticism over the use of an AI-generated asset, which had been posted to Shutterstock and created with Midjourney. The book was subsequently review-bombed on Goodreads.

"During the process of creating this cover, we licensed an image from a reputable stock house. We were not aware that the image may have been created by AI," Tor Books said in a statement posted to X on December 15. "Our in-house designer used the licensed image to create the cover, which was presented to Christopher for approval." Tor decided to move ahead with the cover "due to production constraints."

In response to the statement, Eisner Award–winning illustrator Trung Le Nguyen commented, "I might not be able to judge a book by its cover, but I sure as hell will judge its publisher."

Tor is not the only publisher catch heat for using AI-generated art on book covers. Last spring, the Verge reported on the controversy over the U.K. paperback edition of Sarah J. Maas's House of Earth and Blood, published by Bloomsbury, which credited Adobe Stock for the illustration of a wolf on the book's cover; the illustration had been marked as AI-generated on Adobe's website. Bloomsbury later claimed that its in-house design team was "unaware" that the licensed image had been created by AI.

Gothikana was originally self-published by author RuNyx in June 2021, and was reissued by Bramble in a hardcover edition featuring sprayed edges, a foil case stamp, and detailed endpapers. Bramble did not respond to PW's request for comment by press time.