Obama, Palin, Jobs and the Beach Boys enter Bartlett’s—and there’s an app for that

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The 18th edition of the venerable reference work has just been released, the first for the electronic age and a chance to take in some of the new faces, events and catchphrases of the past 10 years. General editor Geoffrey O’Brien says he has expanded upon the trend set by his predecessor, Justin Kaplan, of incorporating popular culture into an anthology once known for classical citations. Shakespeare and the Bible still reign, but room also has been made for Madonna and Michael Moore, Justin Timberlake and Jon Stewart.

“I also added a great many quotes that originated in other languages. So I would say the new edition has a more international scope,” says O’Brien, an author and critic and editor in chief of the Library of America, which publishes hardcover volumes of canonical American authors.

Little, Brown and Company hopes the new Bartlett’s will appeal both as an old-fashioned coffee table hardcover, some 1,400 pages, and as an ultra-portable digital reference guide. Instead of releasing an e-book edition, the publisher has developed an app that does not simply replicate the printed book, but makes it ideal for digital devices and easy to share on Facebook or Twitter.

Dozens of employees spent months working on the app, according to Brian Singh, mobile analyst for Little, Brown’s parent company, Hachette Book Group. Some 20,000 quotations were categorized so those looking for a quick quote — say a love poem for a wedding speech — could simply search the word “love.” The app costs $3.95 and does not include any extra material, but it does have a digital feature, Quoto, which allows users to take a favorite citation, set it against a backdrop of choice and post it online.

For the hardcover, O’Brien said he removed some old poetry and forgotten phrases to make room for about 2,500 new quotes, including several from the Iraq War. Among them are President George W. Bush’s call to “Bring ‘em on” in response to possible uprisings from insurgents and his declaration that he was the “the decider.” The Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines is mentioned for her on-stage remark that she was “ashamed” Bush was from Texas, as is Moore’s Academy Award acceptance speech when he criticized the war and called Bush a “fictitious president.”

Seven Obama quotations are listed, from his campaign slogan “Yes, we can!” to his announcement that U.S. special forces had killed Osama bin Laden. Palin’s entry includes the quip from her speech at the 2008 Republican convention that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull was “lipstick.” Job’s dying words, “Wow, oh wow,” are among four citations for the late Apple CEO, including a 1987 comment that “It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy.”

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