Today in books and publishing: Digital page-turning now belongs to Apple; Roth tells young novelist, "quit while you're ahead"; Google can scan books super fast; R.I.P. Jack Gilbert.
Patenting page-turning. In a stroke of staggeringly original genius, Apple designed their e-reading experience so that when you get to the bottom of a digital e-page, it flips over just like a real page from a real book made from real paper. Gee whiz! Obviously, the company doesn't want their competitors profiting off the game-changing skeuomorph they worked so hard to develop, so they patented e-page-turning. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's design patent D670,713, titled "Display screen or portion thereof with animated graphical user interface," was filed yesterday. It stipulates that no one but Apple can make pages turn in their e-readers. [Mac Observer]
Advice from Philip Roth. It sounds like Philip Roth has been souring on writing for some time now. His tossed-off retirement announcement had a tone of grumpiness, but it sounded nowhere near as cynical as the advice he recently gave Julian Tepper, a Roth disciple who just published his first novel, Balls. Tepper happens to work in an Upper West Side deli Roth patronizes, and two weeks ago he worked up the nerve to hand his hero a copy of his book. Roth accepted it and even complimented Tepper on the title, but he had some words of advice for the young writer:
I would quit while you’re ahead. Really, it’s an awful field. Just torture. Awful. You write and write, and you have to throw almost all of it away because it’s not any good. I would say just stop now. You don’t want to do this to yourself. That’s my advice to you.
R.I.P. Jack Gilbert. Poets can be a competitive, disparaging bunch, so when poet Bill Mayer describes his peer Jack Gilbert as "America's greatest living poet," that says something. Especially because Gilbert was sometimes a divisive figure in postwar poetry. He was uninterested in the academic track, forgoing professorships for San Francisco's countercultural circles and later the seclusion of Greek islands. Earlier this year, The New York Times' Dwight Garner called Gilbert's Collected Poems "certainly among the two or three most important books of poetry that will be published this year." Gilbert, who had been struggling with dementia for a long time, died at a nursing home in Berkeley yesterday at the age of 87. [Los Angeles Times]
Relief comes for powerHouse. Book lovers everywhere gasped in horror when they saw those post-Sandy photos of powerHouse Arena, a DUMBO bookstore that got hit particularly hard in the storm. But the good news is that Brooklyn boasts a strong literary community, one that's quick to rally around a worthy cause. This Saturday, the "Sandy Hates Books" fundraiser will feature appearances by Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Franzen, Paul Auster, and other authors. Suggested donations are only $10. [powerHouse Arena]
Google can now scan books at 1,000 pages every 90 minutes. Their new Linear Book Scanner, designed by Dany Qumsiyeh, makes the process speedier than ever. Meaning, if they win this suit waged by the Authors Guild, it'll be no time before they become the world's most well stocked library. [New York Daily News]
Wade Davis wins the Samuel Johnson Prize. Britain's most prestigious nonfiction book award has gone to a Canadian this year. Wade Davis won for his book Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest, a chronicle of George Mallory's fatally doomed attempt to scale Mt. Everest in 1924. [San Francisco Chronicle]