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Publishing News: Are free Kindles on deck?

Rumors abound ahead of Amazon's press conference, publishers settle with states, and a strategy to survive the "End of Print."

Here are a few stories that caught my attention in the publishing space this week.

Is Amazon ready to give away the Kindle?

Amazon is scheduled to hold a press conference next week, and though, as Reuters reports, Amazon officials have not revealed what will be announced, there are no shortage of Kindle rumors flying about. Adding fuel to the rumor fire, Amazon announced this week that its supply of Kindle Fire devices has run dry.

Leslie Horn at Gizmodo pulled together a rumor roundup, including intel from a Staples executive that “Amazon was prepping ‘five or six’ new tablets,” that 4G might be in the picture, and that the new Fire devices might include a front-facing camera for video chats.

The Verge got its hands on a photo from an anonymous sender who claimed it to be a shot of the next Kindle Fire. The exact model isn’t clear, and one commenter claimed he’d held the new Fire and this was not it. Verge writer Chris Ziegler reports that the photo was confirmed as authentic “and is part of a larger set of images depicting a new Kindle device.”

One of the more interesting speculations has to do with device price. Most analysts and industry writers are conservatively speculating that the price points will remain close to the same as the previous Kindle line, with the (predicted) larger tablet costing a bit more. Farhad Manjoo at Slate has a more bold, insightful prediction on this point (one that I happen to lean toward):

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The agency model’s impact on ebook pricing

Literary agent Simon Lipskar explains why the DOJ got it all wrong

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The agency model has played a key role in ebook pricing models, and the DOJ’s recent ruling has generated a large number of responses from the community. One of the more interesting ones was from Simon Lipskar, President of the Writers House literary agency. I invited Lipskar to participate in a TOC podcast interview so he could talk further about his letter to the DOJ as well as where he sees the ebook market heading.

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Publishing News: Self-publishing to be the option of first resort?

Mark Coker talks publishing disruption, the DOJ gets snippy, Robin Sloan programs a book review, and NFC gets a dispenser.

Here are a few stories that caught my attention this week in the publishing space.

Self-publishing disruption

Suw Charman-Anderson at Forbes began running an interview series with Smashwords’ founder Mark Coker this week. The first in the series addressed the disruption of self-publishing in the traditional publishing world. Coker says the traditional publishing model is going to be turned upsidedown, that “self-publishing is going from the option of last resort to the option of first resort.” He notes that self-publishing often has had an associated stigma while traditional publishing has not, but says “over next few years we’re going to see that reverse.”

Coker also argues the disruption to traditional publishing isn’t only going to come from outside the traditional ecosystem:

“We’re also going to see a mass defection of some of the best traditionally published authors. This has already started to happen among primarily mid-list authors, who do reasonably well and then their books go out of print. A lot of those authors are republishing their back catalogues as self-published ebooks, and they are earning more money, enjoying more creative freedom, and having more fun than they did working under the thumb of traditional publishers.”

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