I just wrote a blog post
about Public Lending Rights and how I think they could serve as a useful model for pricing ebooks.
What you get when you buy an ebook is a lot more akin to what you get when you go to a library than what you get when you go to a bookshop. You canít lend it to friends, you canít sell it, you canít keep it as an ornament on your living room shelf. And yet you can read a library book for free but if you want to read the ebook you have to pay almost as much as, if not more than, you would for the physical book.
The system slightly falls over with the fact that the rates are pitifully low in most countries. Some back of the envelope calculations: The public lending right rate per borrowing in the UK this year was 5.98 pence. When you consider that author royalties are usually at least 5% and books in the UK usually cost at least £5 then at the very least the author is losing out on over 75% of their royalties each time someone borrows a book. And thatís a best case scenario for the author! If their royalty is 10% and the book is retailing at £10 then theyíre losing almost 95% of their royalty.
How much would you be willing to pay just to read a book as opposed to own it?