After thinking it over, I think I am going to contradict myself. I disagree
with people who think $12 is too expensive for an ebook, but I understand the mindset.
I can kinda understand it - I mean, a movie ticket entails much more than just watching something on a screen. It's a social interaction thing. An eBook is (in the minds of many) like downloading anything off the 'net - it "shouldn't" cost much. Plus they may feel it's not like getting a 'real' book with all the back costs involved, or the nice cover, etc etc
I myself haven't gone to a movie since ticket prices went above $2, and I wouldn't buy an eBook for $12, although I have no problem buying a 'real' book for twice that.
Yes, it's a sort of gut reaction. Nathan Bransford addresses that: basically, it's completely irrational, but it's how people do react, so the publishing industry is up against a mentality that says anything on the Internet "should" be either free or very cheap.
This is another reason I think that Cory Doctorow is pretty much on the right track. You can argue until you're blue in the face about editing costs and the economics of scale and how much authors make and blah blah blah, but the average person doesn't really care about the future of the publishing industry or the writer's mortgage. Convincing them that what's basically a text file wrapped in software that makes it inconvenient to read is worth 12 bucks is, I think, not going to be sustainable in the long run. I wish it were, but realistically, it isn't, and the price point for ebooks that the publishers are trying to maintain (and I sided with
the Big 6 against Amazon re: the Agency pricing model) is not going to hold. I
am willing to pay 12 bucks or more (and have) for an ebook I really want to read, but most people aren't.
Ironically, part of Doctorow's argument is that along with giving away your books, you have to relentlessly market your work and have new stuff in the pipeline in order to build an audience and keep 'em coming back for more. That way, you rely on the fraction who will pay to carry the majority who will not.
I think Doctorow's model breaks down for many authors -- it doesn't work if you don't also have print copies in bookstores, a large online presence and/or a fanbase, and/or an ability/willingness to get out there and hustle, like Amanda Hocking does. But I think the future really will be authors who make their ebooks available cheap (with a few being available free, once they have a large enough catalog that they can give away some of their older stuff or the first books in a series).
What's going to happen, though, is that all these zealous new converts to self-epublishing are going to discover that the same thing that was true under the old model will be true under the new one: a few authors will become runaway bestsellers and make tons of money, but the vast majority will not make nearly enough to quit their day jobs, and many will make practically nothing.