The issue is that writing, editing, and publishing are all fixed costs; they are accrued before an article or book is published, and increasing the distribution of said article or book is, relative to these costs, completely free. The costs the Internet obviated, on the other hand, such as paper, ink, shipping, and retail space, were all variable costs; to create one additional book (or newspaper or magazine) required money. To put it another way, before the Internet free was not an option, and once customers were already paying something, it was a whole lot easier to get them to pay just a little bit more. And, with that little bit more, publishers could cover their fixed costs, and perhaps even turn a tidy profit.
As usual, another intensely rational, and at the same time, poetic, take from Ben Thompson. Did I maybe feel a surge of pride this some of his comments echoed my own? Maybe.