Computer-Generated Books

Friday 22 July 2016, 2:16 am   /////  

Here’s a first effort (drafted, initially, at 2am on July 22) at a bibliography of computer-generated books.

These are books in the standard material sense, somehow printed, whether via print-on-demand or in a print run. I may include chapbooks eventually, as they certainly interest me, but so far I have been focusing on books, however bound, with spines. (Updated June 23, 2017: I added the first chapbooks today.) Books in any language are welcome.

So far I have not included books where the text has been obviously sorted computer (e.g. Auerbach, Reimer) or where a text has been produced repeatedly, obviously by computer (e.g. Chernofsky). Also omitted are computer-generated utilitarian tables, e.g. of logarithms or for artillery firing. Books composed using a formal process, but without using a computer, are not included.

I have included some strange outliers such as books written with computational assistance (programs were used to generate text and the text was human-assembled/edited/written) and one book that is apparently human written but is supposed to read like a computer-generated book.

I’d love to know about more of these. I’m not as interested in the thousands of computer-generated spam books available for purchase, and have not listed any of these, but let me know if there are specific ones that you believe are worthwhile. I would particularly like to know if some of the great NaNoGenMo books I’ve read are available in print.

Updated 11:43am July 22: Since the original post I have added Whalen, Tranter, Balestrini, and five books by Bök. 5:35pm: I’ve added Thompson and Woetmann. 8:37am July 23: Added Bogost. 8:37pm July 24: Added Bailey, Baudot, Cabell & Huff, Cage x 2, Huff, Hirmes. October 12-14: Added Archangel, Seward, Dörfelt. June 12, 2017: Added Morris, Pipkin. June 23: Added Clark, Knowles 2011, The Maggot, and four chapbooks: Knowles & Tenney, Parrish, Pipkin (picking figs…), Temkin. September 5: Added Mize.

Archangel, Cory. Working on my Novel. New York: Penguin, 2014.

Bailey, Richard W. Computer Poems. Drummond Island, MI: Potagannissing Press, 1973.

Balestrini, Nanni. Tristano. Translated by Mike Harakis. London and New York: Verso, 2014.

Baudot, Jean. La Machine a écrire mise en marche et programmée par Jean A. Baudot. Montréal: Editions du Jour, 1964.

Bogost, Ian. A Slow Year: Game Poems. Highlands Ranch, CO: Open Texture, [2010].

Bök, Christian. LXUM,LKWC (Oh Time Thy Pyramids). San Francisco: Blurb, 2015.

Bök, Christian. MCV. San Francisco: Blurb, 2015.

Bök, Christian. Axaxaxas Mlo. San Francisco: Blurb, 2015.

Bök, Christian. The Plaster Cramp. San Francisco: Blurb, 2015.

Bök, Christian. The Combed Thunderclap. San Francisco: Blurb, 2015.

Cabell, Mimi, and Jason Huff. American Psycho. Vienna: Traumavien, 2012.

Cage, John. Anarchy (New York City, January 1988). Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1988.

Cage, John. I-IV. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.

Carpenter, J. R. GENERATION[S] Vienna: Traumawien, 2010.

Cayley, John and Daniel C. Howe, How it Is in Common Tongues. Providence: NLLF, 2012.

Cayley, John. Image Generation. London: Veer Books, 2015.

Chamberlin, Darick. Cigarette Boy: A Mock Machine Mock-Epic. [Seattle]: Rogue Drogue: 1991.

Chan, Paul. Phaedrus Pron. Brooklyn: Badlands Unlimited, 2010.

Clark, Ron. My Buttons Are Blue and Other Love Poems from the Digital Heart of an Electronic Computer. Woodsboro, Maryland: Arcsoft Pub, 1982.

Daly, Liza. Seraphs: A Procedurally Generated Mysterious Codex. [San Francisco]: Blurb, 2014.

Fuchs, Martin and Peter Bichsel. Written Images. 2011.

Hartman, Charles and Hugh Kenner. Sentences. Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Press, 1995.

Heldén, Johannes and Håkan Jonson. Evolution. Stockholm, OEI Editör, 2014.

Hirmes, David. Directions From Unknown Road to Unknown Road. [Handmade edition of 10.] The Elements Press: 2010.

Huff, Jason. Autosummarize. [McNally Jackson]: 2010.

Kennedy, Bill and Darren Wershler-Henry. Apostrophe. Toronto, ECW Press, 2006.

Kennedy, Bill and Darren Wershler. Update. Montréal: Snare, [2010.]

Knowles, Alison, James Tenney, and Siemens System 4004. A House of Dust. Köln & New York: Verlag Gebr. Ko?nig, 1969.

Knowles, Alison. Clear Skies All Week. Onestar Press, 2011.

Larson, Darby. Irritant. New York and Atlanta: Blue Square Press, 2013.

Maggot, The. Heroic Real Estate Otter of the 21st Century., 2013.

Mize, Rando. Machine Ramblings. n.p., 2016.

Montfort, Nick. World Clock. Cambridge: Bad Quarto, 2013.

Montfort, Nick. Zegar światowy. Translated by Piotr Marecki. Krakow: ha!art, 2014.

Montfort, Nick. #! Denver: Counterpath, 2014.

Montfort, Nick. Megawatt. Cambridge: Bad Quarto, 2014.

Montfort, Nick, Serge Bouchardon, Carlos León, Natalia Fedorova, Andrew Campana, Aleksandra Malecka, and Piotr Marecki. 2×6. Los Angeles: Les Figues, 2016.

Morris, Simon. Re-writing Freud. York, England: Information as Material, 2005.

Parrish, Allison. The Ephemerides. Access Token Secret Press, 2015.

Pipkin, Katie Rose. picking figs in the garden while my world eats Itself. Austin: Raw Paw Press, 2015.

Pipkin, Katie Rose. no people. Katie Rose Pipkin, 2015.

Racter, The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed. Illustrations by Joan Hall. Introduction by William Chamberlain. New York: Warner Books, 1984.

Rosén, Carl-Johan. I Speak Myself Into an Object. Stockholm: Rensvist Förlag, 2013.

Dörfelt, Matthias. I Follow. Series of unique flip-books with computer-generated aspects of animation. Made by the artist. 2013-present.

Seward, Rob. Death Death Death. VHS Design LLC, 2010.

Temkin, Daniel. Non-Words. Edition of 100, each with unique words generated by same algorithm used in @nondenotative. n.d.

Thompson, Jeff. Grid Remix: The Fellowship of the Ring. San Francisco: Blurb, 2013.

Tranter, John. Different Hands. North Fremantle, Australia: Fremantle Arts Centre Press, 1998.

Walker, Nathan. Action Score Generator. Manchester: if p then q, 2015.

Whalen, Zach. An Anthrogram. Fredericksburg, Virginia: 2015.

Woetmann, Peter-Clement. 105 Variationer. Cophenhagen: Arena, 2015.


  1. everyword by Allison Parrish has been published as an ebook by a press … but is not in print.

    Comment by Nick Montfort — 2016-07-22 @ 2:20 am
  2. Also, so far I’m not including chapbooks, although I could. Katie Rose Pipkin has one, and there’s the early A House of Dust by Alison Knowles and James Tenney.

    Comment by Nick Montfort — 2016-07-22 @ 2:28 am
  3. What about the manual from A Slow Year? Only about two-thirds of the page count is machine-generated but still that seems like quite a bit.

    Comment by matt w — 2016-07-23 @ 8:27 am
  4. Good call, Matt. I’ve added that, which brings us to 31 entries.

    Comment by Nick Montfort — 2016-07-23 @ 8:40 am
  5. Great resource! I’m not sure if they fit your definition but both < href=””>exquisite_code and Heroic Real Estate Otter of the 21st Century were rather brutally edited (and typeset 90% from a database) by software.

    Comment by Brendan Howell — 2016-07-29 @ 7:33 am
  6. Interesting list, thanks for putting it together!

    John Pound’s computer generated comics might be of interest if you haven’t seen:

    My own book ‘Cementimental’s Untitled Harsh Noise Graphic Novel’ is perhaps best described as pseudo-generative, it was semi-manually created using ‘found algorithms’ via repeated application of certain effects in a vintage paint program. More info in this recent interview –

    somewhat inspired by discussion about my book on the Harsh Noise forums, jliat has put out a couple of much more minimalist Noise books, simply white noise converted into data:

    Comment by Tim Drage — 2017-09-26 @ 7:08 am
  7. One of the nice things about including the pseudo-generative cases, such as Cementimental’s Untitled Harsh Noise Graphic Novel, is that we get nice comments like this as a result – thank you for this, Tim. Another is that this is a fine book and of interest to people engaged with computing and unusual sound/visual aesthetics. And finally, someone is often willing to do a more ‘pure’ version of the project, as you show with James Whitehead’s two books. I do wish I had some page spreads of the two to help me make my buying decision…

    Comment by Nick Montfort — 2017-09-26 @ 9:48 am
  8. No problem :) and glad you like the book

    I only have the 1.207 seconds one, here’s a quick phone photo. Pretty minimalist as you can see. Knowing jliat, I imagine the other one is similar or identical in format but with more and different meaningless 1s and 0s :)

    I’m pretty sure that Bizzarro cyberpunk author and (at one time) prolific to the point of spam noise-scene collaborator Kenji Siratori’s novels are entirely computer generated. The stuff I’ve seen at least looks like very repetitive markov chain (or maybe an even simpler random text generator) output to me. Probably some japanese-english machine translation involved too I think. The most ‘well known’ of his works i think, tho he produced many more in the early/mid 2000s

    Also, the author of my favourite text-randomisation/generation software JanusNode – – made a book using the software. It consists of short questions/topics/writing-queues with lots of blank space in which to elaborate on them, rather than being a novel or dense text.

    Comment by Tim Drage — 2017-09-29 @ 6:47 am
  9. Tim, the photo of 1.207 is great. I love that there are running heads on there so when the person standing next to you in the subway looks over your shoulder to see what book you’re reading, they can find out.

    I know (or knew) of Sitatori’s work but am glad to be reminded of it, and to learn of this JanusNode-based book, too.

    Comment by Nick Montfort — 2017-09-29 @ 9:02 pm
  10. […] Computer-generated books, a list. […]

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