Over the weekend news has broken about another Apple acquisition, this time involving ebooks. The Cupertino company has picked up small ereading recommendation service BookLamp, described in some quarters as the “Pandora for books”. The deal actually went through in April and the BookLamp.org website has now permanently shut down.
BookLamp is a small startup that hasn’t gained a huge amount of attention up to this point. 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.
After a huge ebook price-fixing lawsuit and Amazon’s move into phones, tablets and apps, Apple and Amazon are hardly the friendliest two technology firm around at the moment. 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.
“At first Apple and BookLamp talked about growing their current contract, but then they talked more from a strategic standpoint,” a insider source explained to TechCrunch. “What Apple wanted to do was, instead of contract, they wanted to make sure whatever work was done was done just for them. In broad strokes, the goal that [BookLamp founder Aaron] Stanton and three of the folks he was working with from the original BookLamp crew is to beat Amazon at their own game.”
After its hand was forced by rumors in the tech press, Apple released a short statement, which read: “Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans.” It may be some time before we see exactly why Apple has picked up BookLamp, whether it’s a super-smart recommendation engine or an ebook subscription service all of its own.