For the past two years digital delivery has supplanted shelf space, but those attached to selling physical inventory have poo-poo'ed the viability of such consumerism. But good ole' Trent may be proving that the merch sells itself once and for all.
The Reg puts it well when it says "Nine Inch Nails cracks net distribution" - their latest album has gone up for sale in several interesting ways on their site: get the first volume (nine tracks) for free. If you like it, you can buy all the volumes lossless (36 tracks) including a 40 page PDF booklet for a measly $5. For only ten stinkin' bucks you can get the whole thing as a two disc CD set with a printed booklet. For $75 you can get the audiophile version, digital versions, Red Book CD versions, hardcover slip case and more. Or you can pay $300 and get a super-mega-uber-limited-edition-collectors pack.
Or at least you could before all 2,500 sold out.
At a time when people keep claiming that pirated music is killing the industry and no one will pay for music anymore, it seems awful incongruous that 2,500 units at $300 a pop sold out in almost a day.
Same thing happened back in the day when I bought a copy of Uplink. I could buy it cheaply on its own or shell out some extra bucks and get the signed "limited edition." Of course I now have a proudly signed copy of Uplink on my shelf.
It's not hard to upsell customers, even (or especially) with digital distribution. Give them schwag and they will come.