Book publishers are trying hard to defend the pricing of e-books — perhaps in part because they’ve been accused by the Justice Department of rigging prices to keep them artificially high — by arguing that it costs a lot more than most people think to produce the electronic version of a book. But as author Chuck Wendig notes, what e-books cost to manufacture or distribute is irrelevant to everyone but the publishers themselves. All that matters is what book consumers are willing to pay for an e-book — and the same principle applies for any form of digital content.
Hearing the complaints of book buyers must be frustrating for publishers, because they actually have a pretty good case
for why e-books cost what they do. Although many see the price of
old-fashioned things like paper and printing presses and trucks to ship
them as a big cost for printed books, publishers like Penguin point out
that the main costs involve advance payments to authors, marketing and
other support expenses — things that also apply to e-books.