Critters.com have been running a survey on what a fair price for an ebook is. The average price respondents have suggested is US$7.78 for a new release and $4.60 for a back list book. Seeing as though most of the people who join critters would one day hope to be published authors, a lot of them obviously don't want to make any money out of it. Or perhaps they think the whole of the $7.78 will end up in their pockets.
I put down US$20 for a new release and $15 for back list ebooks. So that's about $22 and $17 Australian, which sounds fair when there are no printing, transporting and storage costs. There should be less retail costs, but let's wait until Amazon and Apple have established their monopoly and see how much their retail costs rise too, while they squeeze the publishers and authors.
If a reader purchases an ebook for $7.78, there would be less of a compulsion to read it, a bit like all the books I have collected from garage sales. If I spend $35 on a book, I always get around to reading it. Reading the cheaper books depends partly on whether they are written by a favoured author, so cheap ebooks might be bad news for new or lesser known authors, they might get bought, but not read.
If an ebook is not read, there could be great disappointment when, on the basis of its high sales, the publishers bring out a paper version which then fails to sell, partly due to lack of word of mouth sales and partly due to it being much more expensive. It could also lead to great disappointment for an author when their better written next ebook, with the not so engaging title, fails to sell. So publishers will probably wait for a new author to have a number of good selling ebooks before they risk putting them out on paper.
If a lot of ebooks are being bought but not read, sales of ebooks would come down to the title, blurb and advertising, and not their content. A bit like all the delicious looking food that is bought and thrown out uneaten in the western world.