I just got back from Borders–my son had a gift certificate from his birthday and he wanted to buy some books.
The card had $10 on it, which–when I was a little boy–would buy exactly that, ‘some books’.
He was quite discouraged to realize that this card could buy him very little. The newer books he wanted were all in hardback, and were $20-$25. Newer paperbacks ran $15. Old stuff (including things in public domain) were a more reasonable $8-9. But my son wasn’t really interested in Pride and Prejudice.
As an author, it disturbs me to see prices so inflated, especially because I know how much–or rather how little–the author actually sees.
Of course it’s not the publisher’s fault either, it’s a broken model. Stores can buy books, try to sell them, and if they don’t, they send them back for a refund. Very few other industries follow such a model (print media does as well, and look at how well they are doing).
I think we’re already starting to see new models emerge, but I for one can’t wait to see what changes lie ahead.
As for my son, we ended up going to the clearance rack and buying some mad-libs. That, and some candy. My son is a voracious reader, but the library is free.