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Apple acquires startup BookLamp for between $10M to $15M in bid to bolster iBooks discovery

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Apple on Friday confirmed reports that it recently acquired book analytics firm BookLamp -- dubbed the "Pandora for Books" -- in April to bolster its fight in the e-book sales market, bringing better discovery and analytics to its digital storefront.



Citing sources familiar with the matter, TechCrunch reports Apple bought BookLamp and its so-called Book Genome Project technology for between $10 million and $15 million. The company confirmed the sale to Re/Code minutes later.

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," Apple said.

Based in Boise, Idaho, BookLamp developed a system of digitally analyzing book content, which played out as a tech demo in the Book Genome Project. Like the similarly-named "Music Genome Project" from Pandora, BookLamp's solution looks to offer recommendations and discovery of new material by breaking apart and analyzing books using natural language algorithms.

Apple is thought to have acquired the startup for in the iBookstore, which offers e-books to iOS and OS X device owners but does not yet have an effective recommendations system for content discovery. Like the iOS App Store, Apple is likely looking to improve generated suggestions through BookLamp's specialized software that can parse words and sentences to look for various metrics like genre, themes and even pacing.


Source: BookLamp.org via TechCrunch


As seen in the above samples snagged by TechCrunch, the Book Genome Project is able to pick out keywords, phrases and other data, map them out in a chart and compare the findings with other analyzed books. Pacing of thematic elements is accomplished through another algorithm that recognizes the same metrics as they appear in a novel.

Apple was reportedly already contracting BookLamp's services to automatically digest book data for demographic targeting, but the tech could potentially be rolled into the iBookstore much like app search engine Chomp was in 2012. BookLamp also counted Amazon as one of its customers, along with publishers in New York.

"At first Apple and BookLamp talked about growing their contract, but then they talked more from a strategic standpoint," one source told TechCrunch. "What Apple wanted to do was, instead of contract, they wanted to make sure whatever work was done was done just for them."

Apple's endgame is unknown, though BookLamp's toolset presents a number of possibilities including targeted advertising, tailored book "playlists" and smart recommendations.

"I can tell you that in the next year to 18 months you will see some fairly major initiatives focused on books and reading coming out of Apple," the person said.

During Apple's quarterly conference call for the third fiscal quarter of 2014, CEO Tim Cook revealed the company has completed 29 acquisitions over the past nine months, including the purchase of Beats for $3 billion.
post #2 of 30
Do people actually ask Apple for comment, or do they just print the expected "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," line?

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You are only relevant...if your customers love you.

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post #3 of 30
If Apple wishes to bolster their book business, they should produce an eReader that competes with the likes of Kobo Aura, Nook and Kindle. Call it the "iBook." I and many others can't or won't read from LCD screens for hours on end, nullifying any chance to conquer us as iBooks customers.

I hold out hope that Apple will one day surprise us all by announcing the iBook.
post #4 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post

If Apple wishes to bolster their book business, they should produce an eReader that competes with the likes of Kobo Aura, Nook and Kindle. Call it the "iBook." I and many others can't or won't read from LCD screens for hours on end, nullifying any chance to conquer us as iBooks customers.

I hold out hope that Apple will one day surprise us all by announcing the iBook.

I wish they'd make an eReader as well, but I don't expect it.

Too many Apple products to list...Long on AAPL, so take what I say with a bucket of salt.

You are only relevant...if your customers love you.

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Too many Apple products to list...Long on AAPL, so take what I say with a bucket of salt.

You are only relevant...if your customers love you.

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post #5 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post

If Apple wishes to bolster their book business, they should produce an eReader that competes with the likes of Kobo Aura, Nook and Kindle. Call it the "iBook." I and many others can't or won't read from LCD screens for hours on end, nullifying any chance to conquer us as iBooks customers.

I hold out hope that Apple will one day surprise us all by announcing the iBook.

that's an amazing idea.

a few things:

How will Apple put its stamp on an eraser? Apple is always disrupting markets and making a Kindle copy will cause a lot of backlash.

Will an Apple eReader and iPad cannibalize each other?
I'm thinking the reason why they haven't made an iBook is because they want the iPad to be an all-in-one device.
An iBook would be a little strange considering iPad does the same thing.
post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post

If Apple wishes to bolster their book business, they should produce an eReader that competes with the likes of Kobo Aura, Nook and Kindle. Call it the "iBook." I and many others can't or won't read from LCD screens for hours on end, nullifying any chance to conquer us as iBooks customers.

I hold out hope that Apple will one day surprise us all by announcing the iBook.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by cali View Post


that's an amazing idea.

a few things:

How will Apple put its stamp on an eraser? Apple is always disrupting markets and making a Kindle copy will cause a lot of backlash.

Will an Apple eReader and iPad cannibalize each other?
I'm thinking the reason why they haven't made an iBook is because they want the iPad to be an all-in-one device.
An iBook would be a little strange considering iPad does the same thing.

 

The closest thing to an iBook would be the iPad mini, or an iPod with a 5.5" screen.

post #7 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by cali View Post

that's an amazing idea.

a few things:

How will Apple put its stamp on an eraser? Apple is always disrupting markets and making a Kindle copy will cause a lot of backlash.

Will an Apple eReader and iPad cannibalize each other?
I'm thinking the reason why they haven't made an iBook is because they want the iPad to be an all-in-one device.
An iBook would be a little strange considering iPad does the same thing.

Curious if it is possible for apple- or preferably a third party accessory maker to create a screen cover that makes the iPad read similar to eink in some way.

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post #8 of 30
I have no trouble reading on a backlit screen. I prefer to read on my iPhone because I find even a mini too heavy. But reading in sunlight on an iDevice is horrible. An eink iBook would be very cool but I can't see it happening.
post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

Do people actually ask Apple for comment, or do they just print the expected "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans," line?

It's the recorded message / automated email reply you get when you contact Katie Cotton's office for a response on anything. 1wink.gif

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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

Curious if it is possible for apple- or preferably a third party accessory maker to create a screen cover that makes the iPad read similar to eink in some way.

Not in its current state. If highly-reflective color eInk displays could looks as sharp and contrasty as a printed magazine page, and it had a pixel switching time in single-digit milliseconds, then I could see Apple doing it.

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post #11 of 30
I totally enjoy my iPad for reading content ... maybe my 70+ old eyes like the brightness, I don't know. When I'm outdoors I prefer to look at the scenery and listen to nature than to read a book. If I had to endure a bland ride on a bus or train, I can't imagine not taking in the surroundings. If Steve Jobs intended you to stick your nose in a book when you could be enjoying the world around you, the iPad would have been made in eINK.
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post #12 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

Curious if it is possible for apple- or preferably a third party accessory maker to create a screen cover that makes the iPad read similar to eink in some way.

heck, I've wondered if in the future Apple would announce an "eink mode" for iPad. Which would be quite wicked.
post #13 of 30
It would make more sense if this was about adding knowledge to Siri. Just saying.
post #14 of 30
First, for those wanting an indepth write-up about this purchase, head over to TechCrunch.

Second, while reading the TechCrunch article, I had the feeling that the BookLamp technology could be used by Apple for movies, music, Siri, television and Web not just for eBooks.

With the technology spanning multiple categories, Siri could become more improved to provide better answers to questions.
post #15 of 30
I'm an avid iPad user but all my reading is done on a Nook. Ever try to lay in bed and read your iPad? Much to heavy. I'd buy an Apple reader in a minute.
post #16 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by cali View Post


heck, I've wondered if in the future Apple would announce an "eink mode" for iPad. Which would be quite wicked.

There's no way the screen could switch between being a normal screen and an e-ink screen. The closest thing would be a super-advanced version of e-ink with ultra high resolution and color depth that could refresh pixels in just a couple milliseconds, in which case it could just replace a normal screen by itself.

 

Now, if they wanted to just add a secondary e-ink screen to the BACK of the device...

post #17 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post

I wish they'd make an eReader as well, but I don't expect it.

Why would Apple make a unitasker?

iPad > ebook readers.
post #18 of 30
They need to do something about their metadata in all stores as much as this kind of thing. And bring back Ping but doit right. It was a good idea they just dropped it rather than develop it

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

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post #19 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post

If Apple wishes to bolster their book business, they should produce an eReader that competes with the likes of Kobo Aura, Nook and Kindle. Call it the "iBook." I and many others can't or won't read from LCD screens for hours on end, nullifying any chance to conquer us as iBooks customers.

I hold out hope that Apple will one day surprise us all by announcing the iBook.
I hear this complaint a lot, and had begun to think of it as an internet meme that was part of the ongoing guerrilla war between Apple and non-Apple products. I don't doubt your particular complaint, but I have been reading on my iPad with iBook from the jump and have no issues with it. The Retina screen is about as high a resolution that my old eyes can see; not sure what more would offer me. About the only issue I have encountered is the very rare times I read in full sun. I can still do it, but it's not optimal. If that's all the Kindle can offer me, I'm not about to chuck the convenience of an all-in-one device to get it.
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post #20 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

I hear this complaint a lot, and had begun to think of it as an internet meme that was part of the ongoing guerrilla war between Apple and non-Apple products. I don't doubt your particular complaint, but I have been reading on my iPad with iBook from the jump and have no issues with it. The Retina screen is about as high a resolution that my old eyes can see; not sure what more would offer me. About the only issue I have encountered is the very rare times I read in full sun. I can still do it, but it's not optimal. If that's all the Kindle can offer me, I'm not about to chuck the convenience of an all-in-one device to get it.

My bad. When I said I wanted an Apple eReader, I didn't mean that I also wanted Tim Cook to put a gun to your head and force you to buy one. If you picked that up then my apologies.

If you somehow also read from my post that I wish for Apple to discontinue the iPad, then that wasn't the case either.

Should Apple release an iBook, you can leave it on the shelf when you walk past it. Just like every other Apple product you didn't purchase.

The eReader market isn't going anywhere. No tablet can replace them. That's why companies like Amazon continue to invest in these products with yearly upgrades even while offering tablets. They sell millions of them, and millions of books to customers like me who love to read on them.
post #21 of 30
If Amazon had been paying this company to sort books for them, then that explains why Amazon sends me email that targets my reading preferences better then Barnes and Noble or Apple. B & N sends me the best looking email and I'd be moved by their presentation except it's just not what I read. Apple's email is not targeted to me based on my habits. I get a weekly email no different then the other zillions of Apple's customers.
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post #22 of 30
Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post
The eReader market isn't going anywhere. No tablet can replace them.

 

All tablets can, and have, replaced them.

 
They sell millions of them, and millions of books to customers like me who love to read on them. 

 

That’s funny. Amazon hasn’t released their sales and all the other eReaders are leaving the market. 

post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post

My bad. When I said I wanted an Apple eReader, I didn't mean that I also wanted Tim Cook to put a gun to your head and force you to buy one. If you picked that up then my apologies.

If you somehow also read from my post that I wish for Apple to discontinue the iPad, then that wasn't the case either.

Should Apple release an iBook, you can leave it on the shelf when you walk past it. Just like every other Apple product you didn't purchase.

The eReader market isn't going anywhere. No tablet can replace them. That's why companies like Amazon continue to invest in these products with yearly upgrades even while offering tablets. They sell millions of them, and millions of books to customers like me who love to read on them.

I appreciate your sarcasm, but you still didn't answer the question my response implied: just what is it that an eReader (Apple's or other) that would compel a satisfied tablet reader like myself to add one more device to my pile?
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post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacVicta View Post



The eReader market isn't going anywhere. No tablet can replace them. That's why companies like Amazon continue to invest in these products with yearly upgrades even while offering tablets. They sell millions of them, and millions of books to customers like me who love to read on them.

Amazon sells "millions" of them. Apple sold hundreds of millions of iPads.
post #25 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by cali View Post


that's an amazing idea.

a few things:

How will Apple put its stamp on an eraser? Apple is always disrupting markets and making a Kindle copy will cause a lot of backlash.

Will an Apple eReader and iPad cannibalize each other?
I'm thinking the reason why they haven't made an iBook is because they want the iPad to be an all-in-one device.
An iBook would be a little strange considering iPad does the same thing.

But the battery in an iPad doesn't last 60 days of use without recharging (Amazon Kindle Paperwhite makes this claim).

post #26 of 30
Slightly off topic, and I am not knowledgeable about company valuations, but it seems to me some of the prices paid for these small companies is somewhat excessive. The thing is, once Apple even sniff around a company the price probably rockets.
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"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
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post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hans01 View Post

I'm an avid iPad user but all my reading is done on a Nook. Ever try to lay in bed and read your iPad? Much to heavy. I'd buy an Apple reader in a minute.

The way technology is going I bet an iPad will weigh a fraction of what it does now in a few years. That said I don't see Apple making a device that is just an e-reader although I guess an iPod nano could be used as an argument for an iPad nano ... so perhaps they could (see what I did there? 1smile.gif. I suspect you are correct to suggest many Apple fans would rather have an e-reader from Apple than Amazon,
From Apple ][ - to new Mac Pro I've used them all.
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"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
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"Google doesn't sell you anything, they just sell you!"
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post #28 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent McAnulty View Post
 

But the battery in an iPad doesn't last 60 days of use without recharging (Amazon Kindle Paperwhite makes this claim).

 

Do you plan on being stranded on a desert island sometime soon?  If so, I hope you remember to have at least a volleyball. :)

post #29 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Slightly off topic, and I am not knowledgeable about company valuations, but it seems to me some of the prices paid for these small companies is somewhat excessive. The thing is, once Apple even sniff around a company the price probably rockets.

True but Apple doesn't have to buy them. All acquisitions have a premium to them.
post #30 of 30
Apple needs to update its template:

"Apple buys smaller technology companies from iTime to iTime..."
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