Grapes and novels: New ways of prying money away from the wealthy


Business idea:

The manager of a chain of hotels in Japan recently spent 1.2 million yen, or roughly $11,000, for 24 grapes.

It sounds crazy, but expensive, specialty-grown fruit of unique appearance or intense taste is a trend in Japan, used as gifts, or in this case for promotional purposes, Guest at the hotels will be able to eat one of the grapes for about $460.

The specific variety — Ruby Red — first came to market in 2008, and about 26,000 will be sold this year. The expensive, but perfectly unblemished and flavorful fruit is one way that small farms are able to compete against the enormous agricultural companies.

Okay, that’s their business idea, which I like a lot. Rich people like things that are exclusive, innovative, interesting, and entertaining – as well as things that are rare, unusual, valuable, and otherwise desirable. There are a lot of wealthy folks looking to spend money on unique experiences who have already spent ridiculous amounts of money on items designed to set them apart from the masses:

Bottle service. Hand-crafted furniture. Custom-build automobiles. Ostrich coats. Six-figure handbags. Wine cellars.

Why not take advantage of this market by pricing a single grape at a $500?

Now for my business idea:

Single edition short stories or novels. Stories written for a single buyer that no one else will ever see.

A novel written for your eyes only.

Admittedly, a part of me would be devastated by the thought that I might write an entire novel that only one human being could ever read, but that devastation could be significantly mitigated for the right price. If I could send my two kids to college for the price of a book or upgrade to a larger, mortgage-free home for a single story, I think I could find a way to let one story disappear onto the bookshelf of a single reader.

Single edition novels:

Brilliant idea? Artistically-bankrupt idea?

I think it depends on the price.

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