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Six and a Half Cents

EBay has morphed into a place to buy and sell just about anything, but I have to admit I like the idea of using eBay to distribute new writing and raise a few (very few) dollars for the author or for a charity.  Tp be honest, the project, run by, is not really about money; it’s an experiment in significance (to quote from their fun website) :

  1. The experiment’s curators purchase objects — for no more than a few dollars — from thrift stores and garage sales.
  2. A participating writer is paired with an object. He or she then writes a fictional story, in any style or voice, about the object. Voila! An unremarkable, castoff thingamajig has suddenly become a “significant” object!
  3. Each significant object is listed for sale on eBay. The s.o. is pictured, but instead of a factual description the s.o.’s newly written fictional story is used. However, care is taken to avoid the impression that the story is a true one; the intent of the project is not to hoax eBay customers. (Doing so would void our test.) The author’s byline will appear with his or her story.
  4. The winning bidder is mailed the significant object, along with a printout of the object’s fictional story. Net proceeds from the sale are given to the respective author. Authors retain all rights to their stories.

This has been going on since last July, but I just learned about it from Damion Searls, (more about Damion here).  He has a great story and a nice red teapot up for sale on eBay through April 25 (13:18:01 Pacific Daylight Time, to be precise).  To judge from the bidding so far, Damion has added $33.00 worth of significance to this teapot with his story, or a little more than six and a half cents a word.

Just for the sake of comparison, here’s what seven and a half cents would buy in the 1954 Broadway musical Pajama Game:

I figured it out
I figured it out
With a pencil and a pad I figured it out!
Seven and a half cents doesn’t buy a hell of a lot,
Seven and a half cents doesn’t mean a thing!
But give it to me every hour,
Forty hours every week,
And that’s enough for me to be living like a king!
I figured it out

With a pencil and a pad I figured it out!
Only five years from today!
Only five years from today!
I can see it all before me!
Only five years from today!
Five years! Let’s see..thats 260 weeks, times forty hours every week, and roughly two and a quarter hours overtime.. at time
and a half for overtime! Comes to exactly.. $852.74!
That’s enough for me to get
An automatic washing machine,
A years supply of gasoline,
Carpeting for the living room,
A vacuum instead of a blasted broom,
Not to mention a forty inch television set!

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