This was a good number of years ago, but when our band recorded a CD it didn't cost much more to run 1,000 copies than it did 500. So we went for the extra 500, reasoning that even if we gave a fair number away as "audio business cards" (i.e. promotional copies), they might turn into a gig somewhere. And they have; oddly some of our better-paying gigs have come out of those gimme CDs!
We put the music online for free listening, but not for download. We also took the "loss leader" mentality and priced the CDs at $10, partly because we were able to keep production costs so low due to herculean volunteer efforts (banjo player produced and mastered, guitar player/singer designed the cover, I wrote the copy and did the PR, etc.). We were also crazy-efficient in the studio (I certainly would have liked a few more takes!), which helped with costs, too. We spent about $5000 on the whole shebang and I think we netted around $2500 - $3000 profit. Not a ton (especially among six players) but the extra $60 or so from CD sales was nice at the end of a low-paying gig. It'd at least help with gas money or bar tab! The online sales crept along to the tune of two or three CDs a month, which we put back into a fund that's hanging around in case we want to do another one. Shipping costs outside the U.S. put a dent in profits, but it wasn't worth the accounting nightmare.
I think Michael Cooney had a good idea putting his "Just Piping" on CDBaby for download only. I believe he's since printed some copies since he's getting around so much these days, but that was a good way to keep the initial costs down. If we do another recording or reissue our first one I'm going to push for doing it that way; downloads just make so much more sense in these iPod days, and $9.99 is a good impulse-buy price point (this I really know!).
My biggest problem is that all too often we're still getting paid the same amount for gigs as we were 15 years ago. We're asking for more, but it doesn't mean we get it. It amazes me that we encounter so much "Well, you love music so much, why won't you play for me for free?" mentality. But that's the eternal arts conundrum, I guess.
If you've read this far you probably know there's no real point here.
Anyway, life in a niche market .... more and cheaper CDs vs. fewer at a higher price = ??? Don't know whether it's an advantage or not. Needless to say, we all have day jobs.
As for cost ... 23 EU plus 7 EU shipping is a LOT. I have to really, REALLY want a CD to pay almost $40 for it. That's almost a tank of gas!