ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Why Hello There —

Uncle Kevin wrote another article recently that caught fire, mostly regarding a way of shifting value in an environment where digital duplication is the norm. Like his other article I mentioned, he doesn’t get all of it right but he throws into sharp focus for a percentage of the reading public some fundamental facts. I won’t sit around and go “I thought of this also”, because while I had given this some thought, I certainly don’t frame it like he does and people have been faced with this issue for a very long time.

Basically, what do you do when duplication is mostly free or no-cost, and you want to make bank? Well, you find qualities that can’t be duplicated easily and sell those.

Uncle Kevin culls out eight of these possible qualities. He calls them Immediacy, Personalization, Interpretation, Authenticity, Accessibility, Embodiment, Patronage, and Findability. He then proceeds to come up with his own whack-ass definitions of each of these, so the words themselves are not as helpful but again, it’s the main thought that counts.

His version of Immediacy (the ability to get the stuff hot off the presses from the content people) is basically what I exploited/used for the BBS Documentary, selling pre-orders by the bucketful and ending up with something like 400-500 DVD sets ready to go out the door as soon as they arrived at my house. In fact, I ended up having to hand assemble these things to get them out quicker. We’re talking tens of thousands of dollars of pre-ordering, so I took that stuff seriously. GET LAMP will have pre-ordering as well.

A bunch of his qualities are things most people don’t give a crap about; whether it came from the real place, whether it was set up for your specific needs, and so on. I focus more on the mercenary aspects; the BBS Documentary was 19 gigabytes of content. As I pointed out in one of my presentations, if someone is willing (especially in 2005) to duplicate 19 gigabytes of content, there was no way they were going to buy your stupid stuff from you. Chasing after them with a million honking bells and idiot laws is a wild goose chase. Let it go, man.

Anyway, so as I continue to brainstorm similar ideas along Kevin’s essay, I’ve been coming up with a few wild ideas, some which might stick around and some which will not. I am more and more enamored of a tier-based system, with crazy-deluxe on top and crazy-cheap on the bottom. By my very, very rough estimation, about ten times as many people downloaded the BBS Documentary as have bought it. It’s easy enough to make something downloadable; the question is what isn’t downloadable and people might wish to purchase/acquire?

So here’s my current favorite.

As part of buying the ultra-deluxe version, you get an e-mail address and a unique code. Before or after finishing the movie, you send me the code and your phone number and a good time.

And then I call you.

Is this a feature people would want? I don’t know. But it’s something I can offer as a feature that basically no-one else can. They can offer someone else to call, but not me. So you’re basically getting some time with me as part of your package. I know more than once I’ve seen a film and then tracked down a filmmaker to scream at/cheer at them about what I just saw. There are a percentage of folks who don’t need permission to decide to call someone up and rant/rave. But for a lot of folks, they don’t feel quite right just calling up. As part of this deluxe package, they most certainly would.

All optional, of course; you don’t have to call me, and I would laugh the laugh of a thousand suns if there was some sort of e-bay-like underground of traded Jason Scott Phone Codes from people selling off their unused ones. But for the people who are concerned about the “right” to call me, they would get it.

And no tears, either, a phrase I learned from the book Liar’s Poker. That means that if they want to scream at me for 20 minutes, they got the right. If someone wants to take half an hour to grill me on editing choices, so be it. If they want to ask me stupid non-sequitir phrases for a while, fine and fine. It won’t bother me; I’m doing a service that I’m selling.

I’m always thinking how to do stuff better or differently; this is just the latest one to kick up. I like it, in theory. How about you?

Categorised as: Uncategorized

Comments are disabled on this post


  1. Josh K. says:

    Andrew W.K. (of Party Hard fame) personally called the first 250 people that pre-ordered his second album. It seems like a great idea for “true fans”.

  2. ross says:

    Would you consider the phone call idea Personalization or Embodiment? 😉

  3. Flack says:

    I’ve been kicking around the idea of a tier system for my next book as well. So far, I’ve come up with the following: PDF version for free, hard copy for $15, and for $500 you can stop by my house and take an arcade game home with you as well.

    No shipping on that last option …