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When a new meme explodes, the race to transform it into merchandise is fierce. Within hours of the laurel vs. yanny controversy, for instance, Instagram meme pages were attempting to cash in by selling yanny-and-laurel-themed T-shirts, aprons, and more.

But there was a time, from around 2008 to 2012, when seeing memes out in the world, plastered on books, merchandise, and T-shirts, was still novel. Social media was just catching hold, and memes began to seep out of forums and corners of the internet like Reddit into broader culture.

The literary agent Kate McKean, who has sold several meme-based books, refers to this time in history as the “OH! The Internet Is a Thing!” stage. It was a time when almost anyone could slap a meme onto a T-shirt, mug, plate, book, or poster and cash in. Meme-focused Tumblrs began to get book deals, FunnyJunk.com started carrying “rage face” merchandise, and Urban Outfitters ordered boatloads of T-shirts emblazoned with an image of “Scumbag Steve.”

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The online joke cycle moves too fast now for e-commerce businesses to keep up

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Click link below for article:

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/05/memes-are-becoming-harder-to-monetize/561578/

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