Hi Terry -
That range seems high just for narrration, of course it depends on the book (esp. the length) and the narrator (obviously Morgan Freeman would command higher pay than, say, The Ultimate Cheapskate
). I think $5,000 for the average narration is more like it (I think I got paid $4,000 to narrate my first book, but that was a few years ago); many audio publishers also pay by the completed hours of the final narrated edition.
That said, clearly total production costs (e.g., studio time, production, post-production, rights, etc.) for an audio edition are very substantial, probably easily totalling the top end of your range. But with digital downloads having largely replaced CD's, cassette tapes, etc., at least audio publishers can now get by with a much smaller front end investment when it comes audio formats. My new book will be available as a digital download and as a CD set, although the CD's will primarily be produced for the library market.
And, yes, the author's royalties for audio editions are typically higher per unit than for print copies, particularly for digital downloads. And, of course, formats like CD sets are usually priced quite high, so it's not only a higher percentage, but a higher percentage of a higher price. All that said, audio sales of my first book weren't that great, with most of the copies being sold to libraries, which will traditionally buy copies of the audio edition if the print version is popular enough in their collections (or, at least, larger library systems usually buy the audio editions).
I really do regret that I don't have the time to narrate this book myself, as it's a pretty neat - but stressful - exercise, and since I write mostly in the first person, I'd like it to be my voice. Although, as I discovered when I narrated the audio edition of my fist book: "If you think about it enough, there's really no word that you can't some how mispronounce."