Why do digital books cost so much, sometimes more than a hardcopy?
1) They don't. the cost of production of a hardcopy book - even if you only order one single on-demand copy, is $1 - 3 for paperback, maybe $5 - 10 for hardcopy or colour. For production runs if thousands it is even less.
Digital books don't have a zero cost of production. We're IT people, we know better than that. The infrastructure and staff for a secure ecommerce site costs a fortune, I'd say a lot MORE than a printing press and a warehouse.
So I think we're lucky that ebooks cost as little as they do :)
2) A primary principle of capitalism is that something costs what the market will pay for it. Digital books aren't selling bits, they're selling ideas, IP. Once again they are absurdly cheap. people will only pay me less than $100 to own my IP permanently encapsulated in a book, but they'll pay tens of thousands to get the same IP once-off verbally. WTF is that about?
3) if digital books cost more than hardcopy, perhaps it is because the producers want a premium for the risk of that book being pirated on torrent sites. the Indians have freely copied hardcopy books for decades but for most of the world it was generally too much effort ... apart from university students who will go to great lengths to steal anything, even photocopying a whole textbook. But we are into a whole new ballgame now: the internet makes it easy and quick to steal other people's intellectual property; and that internet has somehow spread the idea that this is acceptable behaviour.
That's why digital books cost what they do.