With the rise of the kindle and alleged decline of publishing, The Guardian has an interesting article entitled The true price of publishing.
This looks at the argument of why hardbacks are so expensive in comparison to e-books, pointing out:-
publishing is a business that incurs high fixed costs. And it's this, to return to my initial question, that accounts for the high price of (indeed the very existence of) hardbacks. The publisher needs to maximise revenues in order to defray its outlay. Some people are prepared to pay top dollar to have the premium product – a hardcover copy that comes out, crucially, months before other versions. So it makes sense for the publisher to offer it to them.
Anyhow, worth a look if you have time.