Paperbacks moved books from an expensive luxury and lifestyle statement out to the places where people actually lived […] and made bookstores better, arguably made book publishing better, and certainly made reading both more accessible and more popular over the decades, even with competition from television.
Ebooks threaten to reverse that, moving books from an everyday commodity back to a lifestyle statement and comparative luxury. Yes, an ebook may be cheaper at $9.99 (or $2.99, or 99¢, or even free) but to read an ebook, you need a smart phone, a tablet, a dedicated ereader, or a computer —and a credit or debit card. These appliances get cheaper all the time, but from 2007 right up to last year, we’re still talking about an investment of $100 or so.
–Matt Blind on the secret history of the paperback.
I (obviously) like ebooks but… yes. This. The individual unit price for any one single ebook might be cheaper, but the infrastructure cost required to even get to that point is greater. Particularly taking into account the non-commercial ways people currently access paperbacks (e.g. libraries, lending by friends, etc.) that either aren’t available or are available in a severely limited form for ebooks.