The WSJ reports that e-books now outsell hardcover books at Amazon.
Since the marginal cost of reproducing and delivering e-books is close to zero, we are reaching a tipping point for new revenue models.
We already see some scattered examples like subscriptions, bundling, ad-supported books, subsidized or even free books that drive sales of complementary products, etc. It's also a sure bet that a lot more books will be simply given away the way authors donate articles to Wikipedia or bloggers blog. Digital music, software, videos, and news all offer possible glimpses at the future of book pricing.
The biggest barrier to these new models is not technological. Instead, it is in the myriad contracts and implicit culture that links together publishers, authors, distributors, retailers and consumers. For instance, Amazon would have trouble offering an all-you-can-eat subscription or bundle to its titles without the agreement of all the parties expecting royalties which are typically based on per-unit sales.
Over time, these institutions can and will evolve. In 10 years, will the traditional a la carte pricing model be the most common way books are distributed, or will an alternative model dominate?