This week I took a day off from work to do something completely different and very enjoyable. To start the comparisons, I probably spend between five and ten pounds on a new paperback and between ten and twenty pounds on a new hardback book. For a novel-length eBook, I'd generally expect to pay about five pounds, although most are priced in dollars, so the exchange rate has an effect.
I stayed in a hotel room overnight, which cost me fifty-five pounds, including breakfast, after discounts. Not a big room, but it was comfortable enough, and came with free WiFi. I ate at the hotel: two courses and one glass of wine cost me around twenty pounds. The next day I went to Racing Driver School, which cost me a little under two hundred pounds of birthday money. On top of that, there was just under half a tank of petrol to get me there, and back (thirty pounds), and optional extras like a DVD record of the day, still photographs and souvenirs from the gift shop.
Put all of the above together, and a book that costs under twenty pounds and takes a day or two to read if I do nothing else beyond my regular chores comes out at pretty good value for money. Even if we compare just the book and the meal, the book comes out at better value per hour of entertainment.
So how do we explain this to other people? How do we get across the value of the work put in by authors, editors, artists and publishers to produce a book and the end-point value to the reader who is being entertained very economically, relative to the time filled, by the book?