ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Selling the Scene, Selling the Box —

For the first time since I started selling the documentary, I’ve actually added products to the order page. I’m interested to see how that goes.

The first product is not mine, REALLY not mine. It’s a DVD-ROM of ANSI and regular Artscene material, compiled and put into one place by RaD Man of ACiD, who I’ve been working with a lot for the past few years, ever since we met during filming. We’ve become really good friends and help each other on projects.

And because I am RaD Man’s buddy, I can be blunt: the name sucks. It’s called “Dark Domain”, which makes it sound like a first-person shooter expansion pack. It’s not. It’s just a big huge collection of ANSI art, artpacks, music, and graphics crated by one variation of the “Art Scene”, the online BBS-based (and later Internet-based) set of art groups and artists who would compete, trade, and involve themselves artistically. I’d have called it ARTSCENE like I did with the episode of the documentary, but it wasn’t my choice.

Silly name aside, it’s really cool. I own a couple copies, and RaD Man went off and had a bunch made, along with some nice cover art and professional printing. Naturally, he has totally lost his shirt on these things because they’re such a weird sell. So I offered to throw it up on my BBS Documentary order page, and if people feel like it, they can order it along with the documentary as a “gift pack”.

This brings up an interesting situation, though. The DVD-ROM is, by absolutely any definition, “shovelware”, a classic form of product from the days of sudden increases in disk space, when companies were compiling work done by others, putting it all in a pretty package, and selling that package. So really, they could convince themselves (and did!) that they were a legitimate business who were doing a “service” for the world, but at the end of the day, they were bottom-feeding parasites who would pull everything into something they could profit off of while compensating nobody.

So I was back and forth about this.

Naturally, some amount of the artscene hates, just HATES Dark Domain, because it is that, a product, something sold. On the other hand, a portion of the artscene absolutely hates my documentary, for a variety of reasons that’s probably worth another essay/entry at some point in the future.

So I did two things. First, I put it up for sale. Second, I shoved the entire contents of the DVD-ROM online for free unlimited distribution, just like the original material was.

So, if people want to see what’s on it, it’s over there. If they want to take some stuff or even all of it for their own copy without giving me a dime and in fact costing me money, then they can. Or, they can go for the pretty package and buy that, for either $10 or $15 depending. Really, up to everyone. I’ll pay attention to feedback on this from all quarters.

The second item is spectularly unusual.

I am selling empty boxes of my documentary.

And I’m not even a con artist! It says right so on the order page that you can buy entirely empty BBS Documentary boxes for ten bucks! What the nuts, you say.

When a place prints up DVDs or other media by the thousands, they often have overstock or understock. This means that if you order 5,000 copies, you might end up with too many or not enough. Naturally, the place only charges you for what you ultimately got, so if it’s less you pay less. But if it’s over what you ordered, they just stop at where you are or maybe go a little over and charge you what you were told. To think of it another way, imagine that you order a bucket of water but they have to use this high-pressure firehose and fill it from across the room. You hold out the bucket and they let loose. It’ll either be too much water in the bucket or not enough. And then you settle. I swear this is how it really works.

The upshot of this is that there were 5,000 copies printed of the BBS documentary but more than 5,000 packages printed. Recently, I was contacted by my printers that they had boxes of these packages sitting around, and did I want them? I did! So they were shipped to me and I now have a couple hundred slipcovers and boxes in my attic along with the rest of the stuff. So I’m selling them, at $10 a pop.

Why in the world would you buy an empty box? Good question! I have only the vaguest idea! However, it costs me nothing to offer them out there, so they’re up on the page. Here’s some ideas I can think of:

  • Replacements in case you keep taking your current copy of the documentary into the shower
  • You want to dupe them and keep the dupes in the coolest storage case ever
  • You downloaded this documentary off Bittorrent and want to store the copies somewhere neat
  • You want to play a VERY MEAN PRANK on somebody
  • You want one case with my autograph and another without
  • You want TWO cases with my autograph

If you want the last one, send me some mail and we’ll make a deal.

Let’s see how this goes!

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  1. Steve S. says:

    I shoved the entire contents of the DVD-ROM online for free unlimited distribution.

    It seems like the links are referencing the old location of the files.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I too checked and found that many of the links only reulted in 404 errors.