My first concept would probably be a nightmare to manufacture and would no doubt be immediately obsolete, but it made me giggle:
|Drawn when I still had a car with a stick shift.|
My pipe dream:
For a new hardback title, I would be happy to pay from $15-20 for the "base" book, which would be whatever edition I purchase first, whether print or electronic or audio. Let's say I bought a print version of Lois McMaster Bujold's upcoming book Captain Vorpatril's Alliance (hardback list price: $25.00), preordering it as I usually do through my local independent bookseller. On the eve of publication, I become so overwhelmed by desire to read the book that I pay an additional $5-$7 on top of the list price for the ebook version to be delivered immediately. I have to sleep sometime, though, and I don't finish the book before it's time to drive to work in the morning. I don't want to stop reading or call in sick, so I purchase the audio version for an additional $5-$7 on top of what I've already invested. I'm happy that I'll be picking up the print version, because I know this is a book I want to keep and re-read, but I'm willing to pay $10+ for a short-lived (format-wise) electronic and audio experience. I think it's pretty clear that my child will not be inheriting my ebooks.
Unlike a library, I don't have the money to spend on the print book and the ebook and the audiobook if they are all packaged and priced separately (around $75.00 minimum). Nor do I think that I should have to; they are the same intellectual property and the shelf-life of anything electronic is questionable at best. However, I do understand that artists should be compensated for their work, and I know that ebooks and audiobooks come with their own associated production costs. I am willing to contribute money to offset those costs and indicate that they are valuable to me.
In my vision, any of the three versions could serve as the "base" version . . . if I buy the audiobook at $15-20 and subsequently decide that I really want the print version as well, I should be able to "add it on" through my local bookstore or the publisher for a fractional cost.
I realize that I may a bit of an oddball, because I will not be buying anything from Amazon or a large retailer at a deep discount; I pretty much always pay list price unless I find something used. But I am very willing to pay that price to support both my favorite authors and local businesses, especially if I could have the format flexibility that would fit my peripatetic lifestyle. In the meantime, I'm happy patronizing the library and buying books that I've already read.
Am I completely insane? Obviously, the numbers would have to be adjusted for mass market books. I would love to have a discussion about this.
 Entitled, internet-having, and willing to spend a chunk of cash on books.