Can the Book Publishing Industry Figure out eBook Pricing All By Themselves?

TheBookSeller.com’s article…

Bookseller Survey: Cheaper e-books needed to drive digital growth

…received a lot of attention over the past 24 hours. It is based on a survey of 1000 book trade professionals which is, in my opinion, a much too restrictive special interest group to draw any generalizations from. That said, it is interesting that 53.6% of this group said that ebooks should be cheaper than its paperback version. It should be noted that this opinion is drawn from a group of which only 19% had actually paid for an ebook.

The question of ebook pricing is an interesting one though. Why do ebooks have the same list price as their paper counterparts? All the physical book production is reduced to zero. Handling, transportation, shelving and returns are reduced to zero. So, shouldn’t that part of a book’s price be subtracted out? And, what about some price adjustments for things ebooks can’t do like be loaned or given to someone else?

Amazon Kindle ebook versions of hardcover books are typically priced at $9.99. However, in the November 29 TWIT (This Week in Tech) Podcast well-known Science Fiction author and tech writer Jerry Pournelle (I used to buy BYTE magazine just to read his Chaos Manor column) said that Amazon’s Kindle ebooks are actually sold below the cost that Amazon pays the ebook publishers. So, Kindle ebook prices are apparently loss leaders. How long can this go on?

Ebooks definitely need a new pricing model. But all the old guard media (records, vidoe/movies, newspapers, magazines) seem to be having a hard time adjusting to the 21st centruy? Can the book publishing industry old guard figure it out for themselves?