News for Authors

How PRH Uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Extend Your Book’s Reach

by Phil Stamper-Halpin|May, 2019

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be simply described as using computer systems to sense, comprehend, and act—mimicking the capabilities of human intelligence. Read on to learn how we use AI at PRH to get your books in the hands of more readers.


An Introduction to AI

In a world where data and algorithms decide what content is presented to whom on any device (from smart watches to phones, computers, and smart home devices), it’s imperative that companies not only understand how artificial intelligence works, but also master how to use AI effectively to increase awareness of their brands and/or products.

As explained by the technology and consulting company Accenture, AI systems are computers that are enabled to do the following:

1. Sense: Just as humans process inputs from sensory organs (sight, smell, hearing, taste, touch), AI processes inputs automatically and at scale.

2. Comprehend: Unknown, unpredictable, and irrational variables are processed and understood, through pattern recognition and machine learning, in the context of outcomes.

3. Act: AI systems act independently based on sensory input and comprehension of inputs.

When the above process functions properly, artificial intelligence is able to mimic human intelligence. So AI can be about more than just sales or recommendations—it can help businesses at every level of development.


How Businesses Use AI

AI has become a daily part of your life—computer-curated music playlists, a retailer’s suggested products, the safety features on your car, or even the system that detects potential credit card fraud—and the same could be said for companies.

One key way businesses around the world use AI is to improve cost efficiency. Companies can forecast demand to help them reduce wasted products, determine financial risk management, and detect fraud. Data protection and security programs such as automated intrusion detection can save companies from major financial issues, as well as protect their clients’ or customers’ data.

AI can also improve customer relationships. With targeted marketing, customers are more likely to receive ads or discounts for products they enjoy or need, compared to the early days of the internet where ads were based more on trial and error. Customer service has also been changed by the AI industry. Where a human customer service agent can handle only one issue at a time, various manifestations of AI have given these departments the ability to get the right information to many customers at the same time, through voice prompts or chatbots.

For more on customer experience and AI, take a look at this recent Forbes article.


How We Use AI at Penguin Random House

Penguin Random House has taken advantage of many of the great possibilities offered by AI, from metadata to personalized recommendations, and we’ve kept you up to date along the way. In this section, we’ll detail a few ways AI helps us get your books in the hands of more readers.

1. Discoverability: Penguin Random House is always looking to put the right books in front of the right readers. As we discussed in September, has recently begun to employ data collection tools to provide personalized suggestions—think “If you liked x, you might like y.” AI pulls in information about reader behavior on our site, matches it with buying patterns from other retailers and AI-curated collections in our internal catalogue, and creates a feedback loop to improve recommendations for future users.

2. Visibility: Parallel to our work on discoverability, we’ve taken steps toward visibility on various retailer sites: How can we make our books appear higher on Amazon search results? How can we promote our backlist as well as our frontlist titles? In a similar feedback loop, we’re able to match up keywords and metadata with successfully rising titles to determine which optimized keywords give your book the best shot of getting noticed.

3. Availability: With AI, we can make it as easy as possible for retailers to carry our books. These systems analyze supply-chain speed alongside sales data from each retailer (geographical trends, previous sales numbers, etc.) to better understand demand. For booksellers, this process makes sure we have the right quantities of your book in the right places. But our sales team uses the same process when placing books in special markets and with nontraditional retailers. With AI, we’ve been better able to reduce return rates as well as to keep books in stock where they’re needed.


As we look to the future, Penguin Random House will continue to explore AI opportunities to get the most out of your publishing experience. From optimizing a book’s release date and print quantity to further increasing visibility with chatbots and voice-assisted searches, we’re always looking for the best ways to improve the purchasing experience for our readers and to increase visibility for our great titles.



Phil Stamper-Halpin is Senior Manager, Publishing Development & Author Platforms, for Penguin Random House.