The Magic of a Book
There seems to be more and more books on magic these days than we can actually afford!
Certainly in my younger days, I couldn’t afford the quantity of books that are available today. A little book from the normal bookshop was all I could spend my few coppers on. When Harry Stanley brought out such classic works as the Dai Vernon Book, The Slydini Book, or even the Ganson books on manipulation, it was a time to celebrate. These were real magic books of fine standard.
Today, the youngster in magic has more books to consider then I did.
I started with a book on magic. Paul Daniels started with a book on Victorian tricks. Edwin Hooper, on holiday as a boy, bought a little book on magic when he was in Blackpool and visited the Paul Clive’s magic and joke shop.
In those days we didn’t have videos, so we couldn’t see the authors demonstrate their effects. It was an exciting time. The first book I bought was The Boy’s Book of Conjuring, published by Ward Lock. I never really understood if Ward Lock was the author or the publisher. All I knew was that I liked the book and it brought me into the world of magic, together with the little books of Johnson, under the Foyle’s handybook banner: Card Magic and Conjuring, both titles really forced me forward. I could do cups and balls when I was fifteen years of age and this came from Wilfred Johnson’s books of magic, which at that time sold for 2/- (ten pence).
In my life, I have written some 250 or more books. Such books cover a wide subject on magic. From mentalism to children’s magic, general magic and dove magic. These came out year after year and seem to still be pouring from me. It is not the shortage of ideas that could be a problem, but the lack of funds to put out the books which might well be the truth. Then there are magazines, those that publish your effects if they are acceptable. I have had the honor of having many series in Abra, Pentagram, Linking Ring, Repro, Budget, Magic Circular and many more.
The main trouble with magicians is that even when they spend a lot of money on a book, they don’t use the material within. Probably they would have been better off buying a manufactured effect and pretending to their audience that it was “their” invention.
Magic magazines are always worth reading. Bringing you up to date on the news of the day, providing the latest adverts from magical dealers and offering us a trick or two into the bargain. Some magicians keep their magazines forever, whilst others thrown them away. We are a funny lot!
Talking about books, I bet my best ones are the famous Tarbell Course, The Rice’s Silk Encyclopaedias, and some of Karrell Fox’s books.
The trouble with buying books is that you have to store them somewhere and shelf spaces get smaller and smaller. Always keep them away from sunlight and if possible, keep them behind glass. Try to store them in alphabetical order, either by name or by author, and keep a separate book that gives you the actual location of each book. If you have a computer, all the better, use it to store this information.
Magic books are wondrous. They teach us the fundamental facts of our art and are enjoyable to read, whether at home or traveling on a train, something you cannot do with a video film (well – actually it’s possible today). But there is something that transcends time when you read a book. Happy book reading