It’s another self inflicted nail in book publishers’ coffins although I doubt they think so. France has passed the law allowing the publishers to set the price of ebooks.
Apparently “Signs are, consumers expect e-books to be priced considerably lower than physical books”. Well yes, I expect that the copy of the book that just required you to a digital copy of the book you already have should be cheaper than the one you have to send to print, bind, deliver and stock.
However unlike the music industry, I don’t think digital piracy will be the problem, self publishing will. Already self-publishing in the kindle store is make some people serious money and successful authors are moving away from the publishing houses.
The reality is, most of what a publishing house does is rapidly being replaced by the web. The cost of publishing has gone, marketing is now also much easier and cheaper, the wisdom of crowds is filtering the good form the bad and you can get yourself a copyeditor online.
A combination of self promotion and the fact that the author gets more of the book sale, means self-published books are often among the cheapest on eBook stores and end up at the top of the sales chart.
In the mean time, heads are still in the sand, and we are trying to protect the ‘independent bookshop’ by keeping the price of the digital copies artificially high.