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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited July 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    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?
  • Reply 2 of 29
    macvictamacvicta Posts: 346member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 29
    macvicta wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 29
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    macvicta wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 29
    inteliusqinteliusq Posts: 111member
    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.

  • Reply 6 of 29
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member
    cali wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 29
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,716member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 29
    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. ;)
  • Reply 9 of 29
    andysol wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 29
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 29
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    andysol wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 29
    y2any2an Posts: 144member
    It would make more sense if this was about adding knowledge to Siri. Just saying.
  • Reply 13 of 29
    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 [B]Web[/B] not just for eBooks.

    With the technology spanning multiple categories, Siri could become more improved to provide better answers to questions.
  • Reply 14 of 29
    hans01hans01 Posts: 12member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 29
    fuzzypawsfuzzypaws Posts: 111member
    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...

  • Reply 16 of 29
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,924member
    I wish they'd make an eReader as well, but I don't expect it.

    Why would Apple make a unitasker?

    iPad > ebook readers.
  • Reply 17 of 29
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,217member
    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
  • Reply 18 of 29
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,721member
    macvicta wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 29
    macvictamacvicta Posts: 346member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 29
    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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