Thanks for posting. Valid question.
I see that you have ABA and AOU for Birder's Diary. ABA is only $19 as an annual upgrade. AOU is $24. That doesn't seem so steep to us.
Our goal is to run Birder's Diary as a business and provide users with consistent and accurate updates annually. Doing this requires a practical business model and a lot of work. The business model is one wherein we recover the costs of producing taxonomic lists and make a small profit; not enough to get rich for sure, but enough to sustain Birder's Diary going forward reasonably and soundly. We also endeavor to improve the program annually in providing the latest features and functionality expected by today's technology-savvy birders. In determining the cost of both program upgrades and taxonomic upgrades or new releases, we factor in the amount of time required to produce a quality product, the amount of customer reach we expect to obtain and the volume of support it might generate. ABA and AOU are two of our biggest sellers and relatively easy to produce annually. Therefore, they are among lowest priced lists available. However, Clements and IOC are difficult to produce, with data correction and quality controls; they also cover a much broader list (all of the World and all the species and subspecies), so it commands a higher price to recover the efforts. The new Vascular Plants taxonomy was very difficult to create and we don't expect a great return on it, so it was priced higher than any other. That's the business model in a nutshell.
With that said, I have never turned anyone away that writes me personally (email@example.com) and requests a price-hardship discount. Please consider doing that.
While it is rare for users not to have a computer connected to the internet these days (I am aware of 2 out of thousands of BD users), BD can be run and used on a computer that is not hooked up to the internet. Delivering software via the internet is the standard model for most all companies these days. It is much cheaper to the customer than shipping CDroms etc. And updates come much faster and easier. Let me know if you are having a specific problem with using/upgrading BD on your computer and I will gladly help you get it straightened out.
Thanks again for posting. Please let me know if you have any further questions or if I can assist with anything at all.