The price has exploded in the past few years -- I remember being thankful that I was able to upgrade to 7 because I thought its new user price tag was outrageous. The new user price for v. 8 is stunning. Remember, most of the people who rave about BBEdit are long-time users who got in while it was an outstanding value. So much for "Bare Bones."
Also, in Mac OS 9 and before, there weren't so many options for Mac users. BBEdit was really a star back then.
I am thankful that Thorsten Lemke, the creator of Graphic Converter, hasn't taken the same approach to pricing his product that is one of the other gems of the Mac universe.