Apple Quietly Acquires Startup BookLamp: Pandora for Books

Over the weekend news broke that Apple has acquired BookLamp to expand its ebook offerings and better compete with Amazon. The Boise, Idaho-based startup is best known for developing big data-style book analytics services, which could be used by Apple for new iBooks features. BookLamp’s e-reading recommendation service is sometimes referred to as the “Pandora for books.” According to one source, Apple is paying more than $10 million for the startup’s tech and employees.

apple28BookLamp’s Book Genome Project is a platform that enables users to find book suggestions based on natural language analysis of titles. It could help Apple to enhance its iBooks service with improved recommendations, search, and categorization.

BookLamp had reportedly been in talks with Amazon in the past, but Amazon ultimately acquired recommendation competitor GoodReads.

“BookLamp is a small startup that hasn’t gained a huge amount of attention up to this point,” reports Digital Trends. “Its services cover personalized reading recommendations and tools that are able to analyze a book’s tone, pacing, structure and style. It’s possible that Apple wants to use the technology to power the Books section of iTunes, though some commentators are speculating that it’s ready to launch its own rival to Kindle Unlimited.”

“BookLamp’s public-facing product was designed to scan the writing style of books you like and suggest novels or authors with a similar feel,” explains TechCrunch. “It could also break down plot themes and content, allowing for better search-ability and discovery. One source suggests that Apple bought BookLamp to power an ebook search competitor to Amazon.”

BookLamp CEO Aaron Stanton told TechCrunch last year that the Book Genome Project was indexing “40,000 to 100,000 titles a week.”

There may be tension between Apple and Amazon in the wake of the ebook price-fixing lawsuit and Amazon’s move into smartphones, tablets and apps.

Digital Trends suggests, “Apple CEO Tim Cook certainly wouldn’t lose any sleep over encroaching on Amazon’s ebook turf, and as the Beats acquisition proved, his company isn’t afraid to expand upon and diversify from the digital content empire it has built up with iTunes.”