An e-book costs nothing to make. But it costs everything to write — a story, after all, always costs yourself, or part of yourself. And an e-book costs a lot to edit. And design. And market. And of course the story must be procured and the author secured and all of these cost dollars and cents, or bitcoins, or dogecoins, or e-chits, or book-ducats. But of course, e-books cost nothing to make.
–Chuck Wendig on the price of ebooks.
An ebook is worth what the market is willing to pay for it. A ebook costs the sum of the advance, plus the time-attributed rate of the editors/designers/publicists who work on it, plus the marketing and publicity budget, plus anything else I’m forgetting.
If the cost of an ebook divided by units sold (or licensed, whatever) is less than the worth, then costs need to be reduced; by slashing advances and marketing budgets, for example.
This isn’t, in the abstract, that difficult. In reality, however…
In reality, I think ebook pricing has become a kind of capitalist is-ought problem. That is, a lot of people (including yours truly) have a lot of views on what the worth of an ebook ought to be, all of which (including yours truly’s) have only tentative links to what the worth of a ebook is.
On the plus side, this is one of those things I can happily leave up to my publisher; if they get it right, hey. Profit. If they don’t? Well… couldn’t be helped, try better next time.