Today in books and publishing: Philip Roth confirms his retirement; Amazon's mysteriously vanishing buy buttons; Kobo expands to Italy, Kindle considers China; cities in literature.
Philip Roth wraps it up. One of America's most celebrated living novelists has been hinting at retirement for a while now. But he didn't choose to make a big announcement in a prominent stateside literary organ like The New York Review of Books. He chose instead to let it out in interviews with the foreign press over recent weeks. Last month he told Nelly Kaprièlian of French magazine Les Inrockuptibles that he hasn't written new material in three years, and doesn't plan to write any new novels. "To tell you the truth, I’m done," he said frankly, "Nemesis will be my last book ... Enough is enough! I no longer feel this fanaticism to write that I have experienced in my life." He said the same thing in an interview with Italian magazine La Repubblica earlier this month. His publisher Houghton Mifflin confirmed that Roth is entering retirement. It looks the 74-year-old writer will have plenty of time to go over his life story and thoughts on literature with his new biographer, Blake Bailey. [Salon]
Where did Amazon's buy buttons go? Late last night, customers looking to replenish their Kindles with fresh e-books were probably quite frustrated. No matter how hard anyone clicked, there was no way to purchase e-books from Penguin, Random House, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and HarperCollins through Amazon. A company spokesperson later confirmed that it was just a technical slip-up, and buy buttons were quickly restored. But given Amazon's propensity to punish publishers that don't bend to its will with disabled buy buttons, this brief black-out set off a minor panic in publishing land. Why were only Big Six publishers affected? Did it have anything to do with the ongoing agency pricing legal battles or the Penguin Random House merger? Though it seems to have been nothing more serious than a technical goof, it's a stark reminder that Amazon has the ability—as well as the leverage—to shut down publishers' most important connection with consumers at the click of a mouse. [New York Observer]