I was reading an interview with Mark Coker of Smashwords. In the interview, contrary to some eBook big wigs, Coker makes a prediction that eBook prices will continue to go down.
It is true that many publishers, especially the big ones, are going to argue for slightly higher prices in the near future because their overhead for creating and distributing an eBook isn’t that much lower than for print. For them there are still many costs involved but that’s just because many publishers are simply trying to roll their print workflow over to an eBook workflow with all of the book industry inefficiency continuing to be baked in. Some publishers will try to price eBooks higher and they will fail.
The reason for this is that there is a sweet spot for consumers of digital media. This spot is hit if it costs me more in time and frustration to deal with a janky media file than it costs to buy a file from a retailer. Apple understood this and that’s why they insisted on the .99 per song price in iTunes. There are lots of places in the internet to get free music and books but those free files are filled with songs that sound bad and books which have grammatical errors.
Despite the continued costs to publishers who want to maintain there legacy workflows the downward pressure on eBook prices comes from the consumer who is willing to pay for digital content but only if the price is lower than the cost of hassling with downloading free files.