In the economic exchange of author and reader, the authors get only about 10% of the shop price. If he could self-publish his book directly on the internet, reaching a larger audience he would be better off, even if he would sell his book at 10% of the current price. Nobody would think twice paying $ 1.50 for a book-download. The problem is quality and marketing, of course. Something must replace economic reasoning and provide lecturing feedback, overall quality control and trust to the reader/buyer. This role could be taken by an open wiki book community, or a cluster of specialized book communities - acting as a ReflectionCommunity - which could provide feedback, beta-reading, PeerReview, quality-labels, and a marketing platform to reach the readers.
The overall advantage of a community-driven book process for authors, readers and the society could be tremendous. Only the online community can start such transitions, because corporations see $ in proprietary formats and hardware and ruin the e-book-acceptance by bad prize-performance ratios. -- HelmutLeitner
See also TheProcessedBook
My Faculty is undergoing a project to digitize the entire Canadian corpus. It costs $12.50 to mail a book by inter-library loan. It costs $2.50 to re-shelve a book. It costs $10 to robotically scan a book and e-mail it (not amortizing overhead of purchasing and maintaining the robot). -- SunirShah
I think they are starting with books out of copyright. -- SunirShah
There are now things like the Kindle and related, dedicated e-book readers. Everyone thinks they're a ripoff, but to be honest, Amazon is only making 50 cents or so worth of profit on those $9.99 new books. The price point is too high, but it still barely covers the costs and whatever the publisher sees fit to skim off the top. On the other hand, the fact that you can port PDFs into these machines means you can put CC-licensed works - and public domain works, such as those by Project Gutenberg - onto said e-readers. --NatalieBrown