Would You Pay More …

… for a Sanka ashtray if Luc Sante made up a story about it? Apparently at least a few people would, as Joshua Glenn and Rob Walker found when they launched a project called Significant Objects, where they paired up creative writers with objects bought at garage sales and asked them to make up a story about the objects. Each object is for sale on eBay, where anyone can bid for it. So far, a Candyland labyrinth game bought as a thrift shop for $0.29 — with a story about it written by Matthew Battles — now has a top bid of $9.50. Does that supersonic premium reflect the quality of Battles’s story, the value of participating in an interesting project, or perhaps some new Candyland scarcity? [%comments]

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  1. Cait says:

    Maybe it just reflects the difference in consumer base. (…not that I disagree with the idea that publicity increases the perceived value of an object.

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  2. Tony says:

    …Didn’t you just artificially inflate demand and mess up their experiment by giving the item special publicity on a popularly viewed website?

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  3. kdg says:

    I’d probably pay someone $9.50 to take our version of Candyland out of our house so I never have to set foot on that God-foresaken primary-colored path ever again. I might even pay another $9.50 not to hear a story written about it.

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  4. Ben D says:

    How long did it take to write the story? This doesn’t sound like a very attractive business model unless the stories don’t have to be unique for each trinket. I’m not a writer, but I image it would be tough to make a living writing $9 stories.

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  5. David Fischer says:

    We’ve known this for years, thanks to Seinfeld’s “J. Peterman” character and his catalog with outlandish tales of his (fictional) adventures.

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  6. David says:

    “I’m not a writer, but I image it would be tough to make a living writing $9 stories.”

    Now that newspapers and magazines are imploding, ex-journalists will take anything they can get!

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  7. tudza says:

    So long as other people accept these fake provinces, I’m all in. After all, what’s the difference between a regular pipe and one used by Einstein?

    “My author fried says this chair dates back to Louis IVX and has a rather amusing story relating to how he acquired it.”

    “Sounds good to me, let me fetch my checkbook.”

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  8. H.Econ says:

    A good tale can do wonders for bidder activity – whether or not they cough up is not always clear. See below for an excellent example of this phenomenon


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