Ignoring minor variations, the publishing model for popular fiction has been relatively stagnant for decades. A book comes out in hardcover at a price point of $20-30. About 9 months to a year later, that same book is reissued in paperback at a lowered price around $5-$10. Sometimes the hardcover is replaced by a TPB, sometimes the paperback is. Over the years, the cost of manufacturing and the slow burn of inflation has pushed the prices ever upward. But at it's core, the model remained the same. Hardcover than paperback. Book after book.
And then comes along the concept of the eBook. Immediate. Disposable. Low cost. Simple distribution. Infinite print run. Zero shelf space. Aside from the whole story thing, it's basically everything a physical book isn't.
So why do publishers insist on pricing it like it is?
The debate over the eBook price point rages on and on. Publisher vs. retailer vs. author vs. consumer. But it always seems to gravitate between a hardcover price point ($15-25) or a paperback one ($5-$15) give or take some form of DRM. Why do publishers insist on keeping things stagnant when so much around them is changing? Where are the alternate approaches?
More importantly, where are the game changers?
Over the next few weeks, I'm going to offer a few very simple alternate ideas. They'll be high level thought experiments intended to inspire a little bit of discussion. They probably won't be feasible for one if not several reasons but who knows, maybe they will spark someone to try something different.