Using Creative Fiction To Increase Value Of Trinkets On eBay

from the using-infinite-goods... dept

When we talk about understanding how to embrace the economics of infinite goods, one of the key points I’ve tried to make is that every product is a bundle of scarce and infinite goods. That’s a point that some people have a lot of trouble with at times, insisting that some people who create infinite goods have no scarcities to sell… and, conversely, that those who make scarce goods, sometimes have no infinite goods to give away with them. While it may be a bit more complicated to separate out the scarce and infinite goods, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

Parker writes in to point out a fascinating example. Apparently a group of fiction writers are experimenting with selling physical goods on eBay with fictional stories given away “free” in the description. The project is called Significant Objects, and involves a bunch of fiction writers purchasing random trinkets, and then coming up with a neat story to go with them. The post at io9 notes that some stories seem better than others at increasing the auction bids, but points out that: “If Rosenfeld’s success is any indication, these authors may actually get paid more for short fiction on eBay than they would at most publications.”

Again, some will incorrectly claim that we’re saying that fiction writers should start selling crap on eBay, but that’s not it at all. This is just one (fun) example of many of content creators smartly using infinite goods (the stories) to make a scarce good (the trinket) more valuable, and putting in place a business model to profit from it. Once again, we learn that creativity knows no bounds, not just in creating content, but in playing around with new business models.

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Companies: ebay

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Comments on “Using Creative Fiction To Increase Value Of Trinkets On eBay”

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12 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Not a new idea

I’ve seen several of these on Ebay for years and years, and have done a few myself, mostly to sell something that is bog-standard boring, or actually broken (an AMD cpu that I fragged – sold as pre-broken, actually got about 40% of the retail cost at the time ’bout 6 years ago). Take a leaf from Bearkly Breathed and his Pre-Moistend Belgin Candy Sucker.

Bill Rider says:

you wrote:
> …smartly using infinite goods (the stories) to make a scarce good (the trinket) more valuable.

Seems to me the trinket is the infinite good (plenty more trinkets to be picked up en masse, and put on eBay) whereas the story is the scarce good (you write a story, you have _one_ story; you can’t just pick up more to go with plentiful trinkets; they must be created, one-at-a-time… sounds like “scarce” to me).

Scott Walker (user link) says:

Re: Bill Rider and Scare

If you approach it from the standpoint of physical goods are scarce (i.e., can’t be infinitely reproduced) and digital goods are infinite (i.e., reproduction is cheap and easy), then the story falls under the infinite category and the trinket falls under the scarce category.

Reproduction of scarce goods require inputs (time, energy, money, raw goods, etc.) and don’t scale well. Reproduction of infinite goods is a fraction of the cost of the original.

I always approach it from physical/scarce v. digital/infinite.

Valkor says:

Catalogue Writeups

This just reminds me of the product writeups in a certain high-end catalogue, the name of which escapes me at the moment. Each item had a couple of paragraphs of fairly fanciful copy instead of a prosaic description of available sizes and colors. Can anyone jog my memory?

This seems to be the same thing on a more custom level.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Catalogue Writeups

Actually, this is a subject I plan to explore. The direct-to-fan marketing that people are talking about in music is a variation of direct sales. So we don’t really need to reinvent the wheel here. There is an entire industry that has been studying the best ways to market to customers via catalog sales for decades. And now online sales. Plus we have QVC, which a number of boomer musicians have used to sell their albums.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Catalogue Writeups

It is not high end, but all Trader Joe’s product mailers use this type of prose and storytelling feel to discuss the product, price, temporary availability, etc. It makes a much more enjoyable way to see new products hit the shelves, and frankly… I buy more expensive food items because of it.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Catalogue Writeups

I’m thinking that if you are good at this type of writing, rather than running around buying stuff on eBay to sell, it might be more lucrative just to work as a copywriter for an established company, let them come up with the stuff to sell, and have them pay you a salary to write.

Of course, now it goes from “art” to “work” but either way your writing is used to sell stuff.

Suzanne Lainson (profile) says:

Interesting, but long history

That is an interesting link and I can use it for something I am writing.

But of course antique and garage sale vendors have been doing this for years. They tell you something they are selling has great historic value, and then after you buy it, they grab a duplicate in the back room and tell the same story to the next customer.

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