Some of the more desirable out-of-print books are very expensive now, because they're considered collectibles in their own right, or because of the perceived value of the information inside. Two books that Wayne Wesolowski published in the early 1980s often sell in the $100 neighborhood. A lot of the Bruce Greenberg books are in the same situation because they're prized by collectors of the old trains they document. Since the original publisher won't risk reprinting them--or in some cases is out of business--and since current copyright law makes it very difficult for anyone else to reprint them either, prices go up. As far as the prices of new books, there are a couple of reasons. The short print run is a biggie. Four-color printing is another. Printing in full color is very expensive, because the equipment is more expensive, the process takes more time, it requires costlier paper in order to look decent, and you've got three more chances per page to ruin the page, so QC is more expensive. The author doesn't get a whole lot. If an author gets a $4 royalty on a $20 book, that's a really big deal. In many, if not most cases, the authors of the "Dummies" books get 25 cents per copy sold. The people who write books do it for the prestige and love of the subject matter. The percentage of authors who are actually able to make a good living from their writing is low, probably comparable to the percentage of big-league professional athletes versus the percentage of high school athletes. When I published a computer book in 1999 and it retailed for $24.95 and I got $1.75 per copy, some established authors were pretty impressed that a first-timer had been able to get that kind of a deal on his own. Even at that rate, I made less money off that book than I would have made moonlighting at a restaurant. But the first time I walked into Borders and saw a book with my name on the spine on the shelf I really didn't care about all that. Hobby books can also get away with slightly higher prices because a decent part of their audience is libraries, and the cover price of the book is only a portion of the total cost of acquisition. If you want to read a book but don't want to pay the full cover price, by all means look for it in the library, and if they don't have it, suggest that they get it. Chances are pretty good you're not the only one who wants to read the book.