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Apple buys BookLamp

Apple has acquired book analytics and recommendation company BookLamp in an estimated $10-15m deal.

The move could be seen as a bid to match Amazon in the book recommendations field; Amazon acquired Goodreads in April last year, and it is now incorporated into the new Amazon devices. It is thought that the BookLamp acquisition could improve the recommendations, search, and categorization of titles in iBooks.

TechCrunch first reported the acquisition after an anonymous tip-off from a reader. Apple said: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from  time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans."

BookLamp is based in Idaho, US, and its most popular product is the Book Genome Project, which lets users find suggestions for books to read based on natural language analysis of other titles. The program breaks a book up into 100 scenes and measures the ‘DNA’ of each scene, looking for 132 different thematic ingredients, and another 2,000 variables, BookLamp’s c.e.o Aaron Stanton told Publishing Perspectives in 2011

At that point, BookLamp had 20,000 texts in its database — primarily from Random House and Kensington publishers and had amassed nearly 650m “data points” in all from each.

A source told TechCrunch that the acqusition deal included BookLamp’s employees as well as the technology for a price that was “higher than $10 million, and lower than $15 million.”

BookLamp has not commented on the story.

Amazon bought Goodreads in April last year for an estimated $150m (although some reports suggested a more implausible $1bn). The recommendation website pledged to retain an “independent identity” following the sale and has since been incorporated into the Kindle Paperwhite device.

At last year’s Futurebook Conference in November, Patrick Brown, director of author marketing at Goodreads said users had grown from 16m to 20m since its acquisition.