So why should I be left out?
My proposal is inspired by Macmillan's sliding scale model, but I've tried to make it simpler and more idiot-proof. (Nothing is entirely idiot-proof; the world always has new and better idiots.)
The standard electronically-delivered edition of a book for a wide consumer audience should be priced at xx% of the list price of the currently-dominant print-on-paper edition.I personally think that the percentage should be about 60%, but reasonable people may differ on this point.
- I said "for a wide consumer audience;" I don't expect this model to be used for professional journals or other publications aimed at a limited or specialist audience.
- A "standard electronically-delivered edition" is assumed to be identical to the print edition; e-books with added fripperies might, possibly, be worth a higher price.
- I am assuming the continued existence of a dominant print-on-paper edition, because I do assume such a thing.
Albert A. Author's new novel, Dark Mace of Ake'fujji, is published in hardcover by Really Big Publishing House in February of 2010 at a list price of $24.95. All of the electronic editions of Dark Mace are available for $14.97.
In December of 2010, RBPH has a book-store promotion for Dark Mace, with stickers that low-paid retail drones affix to the copies they have on hand (and which are pre-applied in RBPH's warehouse to the overstock that they hope to flow out to those stores), dropping the price to $17.95. All of the electronic editions are now $10.77.
RBPH's trade paperback of Dark Mace reaches stores in March of 2011, with a $14.00 list price. The electronic editions drop in price to $8.40.
And, finally, Dark Mace is released as a mass-market paperback in June of 2012 (tying into the slightly-delayed concluding book of the trilogy) with a list price of $8.99. The electronic editions also see a price drop, to $5.39.
This model has the advantage of being consistent and predictable, and of following the already long-established glide path of book pricing. It would be easy for the consumer to understand, and would allow readers to know when a book would be available in the edition they prefer at the price they would like to pay.
For those reasons, I'm morally certain that it will never happen. But I offer it to the world nonetheless.