The trend to make content available as electronic media has been going on for a while now. It started with music back in around 1997. The introduction did not go very smoothly since the music industry did not understand the potential of electronic media and you could argue that they still do not.
Back then music was made available in music formats like WMA with limiting options on using the content using digital rights management (DRM). Around 2009 music became available without restrictions using the MP3 format most of the time. This led to a price increase.
Pricing of ebooks on Amazon.com were lower than real books on introduction. But with the introduction of the iPad and Apple’s bookstore the publishing industry managed to increase the price of ebooks to the same level as real books.
Overall the prices of electronic media is more or less the same as their physical equivalents. The question is if that is fair?
I argue this is not fair and I have several reasons for that. First reason is that it is not physical good. This means no printing and packaging costs. Moreover the stock and logistic costs are much lower than for a physical good. Second reason is that most electronic media come with restrictions on its usage. I cannot simply resell my ebooks to someone else when I am done reading. I cannot lend a book to a friend for instance. And the third reason is that I do not own the content itself but I get a license to use to content within a set of restrictions.
To me electronic media has a much lower value than real physical goods.
If you look at the revenue model of the publishers there will be a significant increase in volume because of the restrictions on electronic media. As I cannot lend or resell my item to someone else other people will have to acquire their own copy. This increases volume.
In short to make electronic media really take off the publishing companies have to seriously consider changing the prices and bring them in line with the actual usage options users have. The changing media consumption is a real revolution for the industry and clearly this industry is struggling to cope with this change. They have to understand that this change will happen anyway. The companies who really understand the new game of electronic media will end up coming on top. Unfortunately most publishing companies show that they have a long way to go.