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Scarcity, or “why I should know better”

By on October 28, 2010

Yesterday, I gave a talk on self-publishing at a TIGA event. It was fun.

How to Publish a Game packshot

As I sometimes do, I took along a number of copies of How to Publish a Game to sell at a conference discount. A substantial conference.

I only sold three.

Half the time I sell ten. The other half I sell three. Do you want to know the difference between the two scenarios?

When I sell ten, I have only ten copies with me. I announce that there are only ten, first come, first served.

When I sell three, I have twenty with me. Twenty clearly doesn’t look scarce. It looks plentiful, as if there is no advantage to having more.

In short, the more books I have with me, the fewer I sell.

The annoying thing is that I know this. I have read Influence by Robert Cialdini. I know that scarcity is one of the six key sales techniques. And now I have clear evidence that it is true. Evidence that hits me in the wallet.

So from now on, I am bringing scarcity back. I will never offer more than five copies at a conference discount.

Get ‘em while they’re hot.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: