That’s a kettle:kettle situation and fair enough that your business model differs from that of a large publisher. I’m not arguing the numbers. You have less overhead to cover and are willing to assume the risk. Yours is a different kind of publishing goal. What I meant was pot:kettle::food:publishing.
I was struck by the tone of surprise that publishing is a business and that business would price a $50 book that cost around $3 to print. While I don’t know the day-to-day intricacies of the food industry, I do know a glass of orange juice doesn’t cost the $5+ that a place might charge over brunch when I can get an orange for (probably) under $0.50. But when I’m at a restuarant I’m not just paying for orange juice. A book isn’t made by just tossing a text document to a printer, nor is its life-cycle done when they are shipped out.
Publishing is a business but it’s not like people get into it for the lucrative salaries. It would not be able to survive by taking the same risk you can assume for one book on the thousands of titles it publishes each year.