Amazon.com prices for a few random books as of 10/5/2017:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - paperback $9.29, hardcover $17.89, audio CD $38.98
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - paperback $8.34, hardcover $16.41, audio CD $28.46
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone - $7.89 for the paperback, $17.06 audio CD
The War of Art - paperback $10.20, MP3 audiobook $9.79 (slightly cheaper)
The two obvious criticisms of what I have above are the fact that these are the Amazon.com prices (rather than the publisher price), and that this is a limited number of books (so it may not represent overall trends).
I don't have any hard statistics on this, but it seems to me that that audiobooks (with some exceptions) tend to be dramatically more expensive than the print edition of the books. Why is that?
This seems to hold true even with electronic versions (e.g. purchases from Audible.com or iTunes), so the physical cost of producing the CDs doesn't appear to entirely explain the cost differences.
I'm also not convinced that the additional cost of creating the audiobook in the first place entirely accounts for its price. I do understand that the publisher needs to recoup the cost of producing it in the first place in order to make it worthwhile to sell it, but it seems like that cost would be distributed among a large number of people (at least for popular audiobooks like Harry Potter). Also, the marginal cost of producing additional units it relatively low - selling 2 million units isn't twice as expensive as selling 1 million units. Finally, the cost of producing the goods in the first place isn't really related to the price that people are willing to pay for it.
With that said, what is the logic behind these prices? How do the publishers typically price audiobooks relative to paper and hardcover books and why? How does this compare to Amazon.com's pricing?
My understanding is that Amazon.com does dynamic pricing, so my guess is that they're doing some kind of regression analysis to get an objective function relating price to profit somehow and then doing single-variable optimization on that. But this doesn't really explain how they came up with the approximate price range to begin with, or how the publishers came up with the list price.