Apple is looking to beat Amazon at the eBook discovery game with the acquisition of BookLamp. The Idaho based startup has focused their company primarily on analytics services that is specialized on big data.
BookLamp’s claim to fame was the Book Genome project, a book discovery engine that analyzed the text of books to break them down by various themes and variables to let readers search for books similar to books they liked.
BookLamp also provided content analysis services to a number of e-book distributors like Amazon, Apple, and other publishers, screening books for categorization and providing a platform for publishers to screen manuscripts.
The one thing that BookLamp did really well was look at a specific title and extrapolate the underlying metadata. As you can see from the Stephen King example above, it categorizes all of the main themes of the book, to help with indexing and organization in the bookstore.
Apple has not formally announced the amount of cash it has ponied for the company, but the rumor was between $10 and $20 million dollars. BookLamp was actually in negotiation with Amazon prior to the sale to Apple, but the talks fell through.
What will Apple do with BookLamp?
Aside from the clientbase that BookLamp already has, there are a number of things Apple could do with the technology. The first would be to develop a competitor to Amazon X-Ray, which would give you the people, places and things in a book, but also major themes. It would also assist in vetting out titles that would not be appropriate for kids or young teens.
Apple iBooks currently does not really focus on recommendations or personalization. They mainly have a series of top lists, editors choice, or recommended titles from Apple curators. Some of this data is changed based on geography, for example in Canada you would see a number of French language titles.
BookLamp technology would allow Apple to give more personalization based on past purchases. This is similar to the type of data Amazon employs and it often leads to more sales, especially if the data could be displayed on the iPad/iPhone, but also via Email.