Originally Posted by HarryT
"gouge" is an unpleasant accusation to make. If the publisher knows that the book is only going to sell a very limited number of copies in an academic field, then the price has to be high to repay the cost of production. As a former textbook author myself, I know only too well the very high costs that can be associated with the production of such a book,
The academic book market seems to run very differently from the commercial market. I would guess that pricing is based on an assumption by the publishers that most sales are going to be to academic libraries and are commensurately high - the libraries are going to buy it anyway, but this is going to move a relatively small number of books. I had a recent experience though that made me question the margins on academic books. A prof of mine recently wrote a book and offered to run an optional course on it. The retail price of the book was about £120. Knowing that no-one would buy it at that price he negotiated with the publisher to let us have it for £50 if at least 15 of us agreed to buy it. We manged to get 15 to agree and duly got out books. What that made me think though was that the publisher was probably not losing money on the deal, and if that's right then the mark-up on a full-price book would be something in the region of 60%.
The author will never make anything out of the book (in fact he even contributed to publication costs because he thought a small number of colour plates were essential, the publisher disagreed but agreed to include them if the author paid for them!) Against all that I realize that a good deal of world class academic work would never see the light of day if academic publishers were not doing what they are doing. But it does seem that a good deal of publication costs go into production - the ideal situation for producing ebooks I would have thought.