Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
The concept of a digital product selling out is a little difficult to comprehend, until you factor in two other things: marketing and support materials.
How does a digital product sell out? I saw a game that was sold out. I'm confused.
The concept of "selling out" of a product, when that product is nothing more than digital data, is artificial. But sometimes, there's more to the product than digital data.
In this audio segment from an Ask Leo! webinar, I'll discuss what it might mean to have a digital product sell out.
How does a digital product sell out? I saw a game that was sold out. And I'm confused.
Most of the time ... the Amazon scenario is actually a pretty interesting one to dovetail into this because obviously, bits are bits. One thing computers are great at is copying files. They can copy like nobody's business. That's, I'm convinced, that's like 80% of what computers do is to copy bits from one place to another. So, when that's digital media, like music or books or product, there's really no physical limit on the number of copies you can make.
When somebody imposes a limit, like selling out of a product, that typically means that it's either a marketing issue (in other words, they are trying to provide a sense or create a sense of scarcity for this product to hopefully encourage people to buy it when they might be undecided), or as in the case of Kindle, they may be under contractual obligation for how many people can actually purchase that product that they are allowed to sell or in the case of Kindle, how often you are allowed to share it.
There's another scenario that's typically less likely is that the product consists of more than just bits; there's additional parts to the product – be they physical parts like boxes or manuals or God only knows what – then they could have a limit on those. They have an unlimited number of bits to give you, but they don't have all of the support materials.
Another scenario is when the product comes with bonus materials. One of the things I plan to do with the Maintaining 7 book is when you purchase the book, you will be granted access to a website that contains a bunch of bonus material. I don't plan to, but I could certainly understand where people will have a limited number of accounts to be able to give away for that kind of thing.
Even here today, GoToWebinar is a good example of that. Really, all we're dealing with here is bits. My voice is being converted to bits here at my computer. The screen image that you're looking is being converted to bits and those bits are just sort of streaming out from my computer out to GoToWebinar where it's being distributed. They have a limit of one hundred attendees at a time.
That's the only reason for that limit, besides potentially the hardware required to stream data to one hundred simultaneously is that I'd have to pay more to get more, so it falls back to kind of a marketing limitation. So those are the kinds of things that can factor into it.
Ultimately, you're absolutely right: bits is bits. You can make as many copies of them as you like. Typically, when there's a limit of some sort, you end up having to look at other things that are included with those bits or potentially some of the legal or other restrictions that may be placed on the product.