Apple turns its attention to books and radio with BookLamp, Swell buys

Cupertino has reportedly added two new companies to its stable, both offering to improve its recommendations services.
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Apple looks to be bolstering its books and podcast offerings, with rumours of two acquisitions surfacing in recent days.

According to reports, Apple has snapped up reading recommendations company BookLamp.

BookLamp was initially a University of Idaho project, started by a student who went on to become its CEO, Aaron Stanton. It works by scanning the text of books uploaded by publishers in order to analyse their make-up, identifying various elements of style and theme — such as the book's pacing and whether it's a crime or mystery novel. It uses that information to offer readers book recommendations with similar DNA.

While Apple hasn't responded to a request for comment from ZDNet on the sale, a note on the BookLamp homepage says the site "will no longer be available as our company evolves its mission". 

BookLamp has been described as 'Pandora for Books'. The 'Pandora for' appears to be something of a theme for Apple's buyouts at the moment, after it was reported the company is poised to buy 'Pandora for talk radio' app Swell, too.

The purchase price is thought to be around $30m, according to Recode, which broke the news on Monday.

Swell's iOS app curates a reader's podcasts and radio feeds, and makes suggestions based on the user's listening history. It's been available on iOS since last year, and has an Android version now in beta.

Recode noted the iOS app will be shut down this week, and is likely to be used to help Apple smarten up its own in-house podcast app, whose 1.5-star rating is well below Swell's 4.5 stars.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook said last week that the company has acquired 29 companies since the start of this year, not including its $3bn purchase of Beats.

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