This discussion started on the Spinward Fringe Crew Facebook Page, and I realized that I had said something in a lengthy response that hasn't been voiced too often in the publishing world. Most likely because it's a pie-in-the-sky idea that no one knows how to bring into being yet.
I call it the Utopian Publishing Model.
I'd love to see a cooperative group lending system come about, where the readers and the artist are taken care of. From what I can see, Amazon is working on something similar but they are missing the mark right now. On the readers' end, they have to have a special type of credit card with Amazon. On the author's side, they have to make the titles in this upcoming program exclusive to Amazon / Kindle. It's not the right solution right now, but the seeds of an open coop are there.
It's the necessity to make money to survive that makes the co-op difficult to develop. How do you provide books for all people regardless of their income, cover the costs of servers, etc... and make sure the author is paid for their work? It's a difficult system to develop, especially since current systems aren't truly accomplishing what they have to.
Publishers have to protect themselves against the inconsiderate few, and it costs the kind majority. The best example is piracy. On average a spinward fringe book is found on a piracy site three times a month. There is also a clear example of legal piracy in the fact that Amazon forces indies to enroll in their lending program when publishing a book. If an indie doesn't enroll, their royalties are cut in half. I don't have anything against the lending program under most circumstances, but enrolling should be a choice connected to marketing strategy and personal prefference.
Those kinds of things make companies (and some authors) too paranoid or bitter to participate in a new system.
Some of these companies also don't understand ePublishing, or their customers, and you'll find an easy indication of their block headed-ness in the way they price their books. Here's a couple example of "grossly overpriced" books:
From my point of view, the price setters of these books suffer from profit and piracy paranoia. They're also setting themselves up for a big fall. Thousands of readers are noticing that price and turning away from that book - for good - so lowering the price in a year won't help sales much. I could go on about strategy of pricing, but you already get the point.
I wish we didn't have to bring big publishers kicking and screaming into the eBook market. The fact that it really did happen that way tells me that future systems where you guys get to read for a few pennies a novel, or nothing at all, and I get paid fairly will be even harder to figure out.