Julia, my POD contract is renewable annually; I can withdraw the book any January 1st I like. SFWA doesn't oppose POD in general, only rights-grabbing contracts. All small presses, whether POD or not, are limited in what they can do in publicizing a book, and that is a problem.
Yes, re-reading my post I should have phrased it more carefully - Ed obviously is a decent publisher, and I didn't mean to cast aspersions in that direction. I've been going through the SFWA website to catch up on current thinking on electronic rights, and ran into the rant about how POD is being abused by a minority of publishers. POD is a good thing, in my view as a reader, as long as it's not a means of scamming the author. I'd have bought the POD edition of King rather than a second-hand paperback, and if any of the others come out in POD I'll be considering buying replacements for the current rather battered collection.
Julia, some of the hardbacks you've seen may be book club versions, which are most definitely cheaper. Though I recently received three original-publisher's versions from the Mystery Guild; I can't imagine why or how this works out since it was billed at $11.99 as it would have been for their own versions.
These were new books in a chain bookshop, and mostly full price, not on the remainders pile. I don't remember specifically checking to see if they were book club rather than original publisher, but that's because it wouldn't have occurred to me that book club editions would be that badly made. I know that one I looked at and put back was full price, because it cost as much as I would have expected to pay for a hardback novel in the UK - something that surprised me, given how cheap paperbacks are here. One of the rare occasions when I've thought "Why do Americans put up with these prices?" instead of "Why do the British put up with these prices?".