(Close Window)
Topic: Review of Valentine's The Ouija Board!
Message: Posted by: dmkraig (Nov 25, 2011 12:12PM)
I'm putting my review here as opposed to the review section so as to keep this in our more cloistered community.

I had seen some very positive comments about this book, here, so I ordered it through Lulu. Being of the old school—I like paper books and prefer hard cover books—I purchased the hard cover version of The Ouija Board! by Freddie Valentine.

Since it is available in this format, I'd like to comment on the design first. This has nothing to do with the content, just the design. To be blunt, it's a total disaster. Not bad, not poor, but horrible. The text on the front cover is almost unreadable. The text on the back cover IS unreadable. Both are so dim that they cannot be made out against the background. The spine, however, does not suffer this fate: there's nothing on it. The dark color of the front and back covers doesn't even appear on the spine. It's just a blank, off-white color.

The size of the book is about 8.5" x 11", making this very slim book look more like a book for children than for adults. Indeed, a section in the back called "The School Yard Myth," written as a conversation, has one line of type followed by three or four line spaces, another line of type, another three or four line spaces, making this section appear like a children's book. Some pictures and illustrations are stretched until they pixilate. Others have no space around them so that the text almost runs into them.

Further, the layout was designed to be one-sided rather than two sided. All of the pages have a narrow left margin and wide right margin. For balance, well-designed books will alternate narrow and wide margins so there is more space toward the spine and less toward the outer edge of the page.

In short, this is just a design disaster. Frankly, for over $54 and a mere 35 pages I expected much more in the way of appearance. A good editor would have removed some of the typos, too.

Now, let's get down to content.

It begins with a one-page preface by Paul Voodini. I like this because, quite frankly, it is likely to scare those looking for magnets, electronic, or a close-up gimmick away. It also points to something that I found to be somewhat misleading. People know what a ouija board is. It has letters and numbers on a rectangular board and a (usually) heart-shaped planchette which seems to move around the board on its own (or the spirits') volition. However, this book really isn't focused on the ouija board. Rather, it's focused on having a larger, slick-topped table with letters spread around the surface and using an up-turned piece of stemware as a planchette. This was a precursor to the ouija board and a vast improvement over table tapping, but it isn't an ouija board. So quite frankly, the book's title is more than a little misleading.

Next we come to the main text by Mr. Valentine.
1/4 page advice to read the entire book. The rest of the page is blank.

1/2 page intro. The rest of the page is blank.

Next, about 80% of a page with a good discussion of why the idea of using a ouija board is so good. It's a justification for such a routine.

Next, 1/3 page history of the ouija board. With such a short history I'd hope that it would at least be accurate. It's not. Contrary to Valentine's claim, Fuld was not the inventor or developer of the Ouija. It was created by Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard. Fuld simply took over the patent and marketed it a decade after the original patent filing in 1890 (awarded in 1891).

Next, a full page on why some people fear the ouija and how to work with that, followed by a page on buying a ouija board, in which he advises NOT to buy one or use one because they are too small for group work. Hmmm a book on how to use a ouija board that says you shouldn't use it? Okay...

Next, a little over a half page on how the ouija works. Most important is the value Valentine places on how the atmosphere will have an effect on the participants. This is very good.
This is followed by "The Set Up," three pages on which there is a bit more than one page of text and some large photos. This is a succinct discussion with lots of good advise.

Next comes a page-and-a-half on the pre-talk. Rather than give suggested patter, Valentine wisely describes what you need to cover and even how to set up the participants to be ready to make the glass or planchette move. This is psychologically excellent, has good ideas, and is a must for workers interested in doing a spirit-contact routine that requires no gimmicks. I don't want to give anything away, but the four principles he outlines as things that must be covered are brilliant and a must.

This is followed by a great section on getting things started (and what to do if it doesn't get started) and then, once started, the type of questions to ask the dead. This is followed by a section on more advanced communication with some great ideas IF you can quickly come up with meanings to abbreviations and acronyms. It's a great idea for people who are fast thinkers in performance situations.

The book then has a brief section on how to end your performance and what I consider to be important, how to care for your audience and participants. The book ends with suggested reading and a bit on the author.

But wait! There's more!

Yes, the book is basically a mere 23 pages long (with LOTS of blank space and enormous photos and illustrations— more like about 12 pages of actual text) and the rest is "Bonus Material." This includes:

A trick called "The Innocent Ouija Board" by Paul Prater
Thoughts on different ouija boards by KOTAH
A page of old ouija board advertisements
A story about the ouija by Stephen Ward
A dark and blurry image of Freddie Valentine

Summation:
With the information in this book, combined with your showmanship and outright chutzpah, you could literally take what is here and turn it into a full act. The tips, ideas, and psychological insights for performing this routine are highly valuable.

But frankly, the disaster of the design and format implies such a pump-it-out attitude on the part of the author I simply cannot recommend the purchase of this information in this form. Instead, if you're interested in giving this kind of performance, and if a download is available (and is much less expensive!) go for that.
Message: Posted by: docsteve (Nov 25, 2011 12:49PM)
Wow! An honest review, and quite a scathing one at that.
I think Freddie has become a stalwart of our community and I watch with interest the responses here.

I've found the Menagerie runs to be of great standard, so this is surprising. As I say, I will watch and read with interest.
Steve
Message: Posted by: necroloid (Nov 25, 2011 01:23PM)
I think the reviewer is basically saying that the info is good, just over priced for what you get(Especially for the hard copy version). I am still interested in the book, but I think I might wait until Freddy offers one of his combo deals so I can pick this up with one of his other books(Missed the last offer, Doh!)
Message: Posted by: Lord Freddie (Nov 25, 2011 01:26PM)
Well, you certainly can't please everyone, that's for sure! The book has recevived a lot of positive comments here and elsewhere and the intention of the book was to introduce people, who had never attempted an ungaffed ouija session, to the workings of it and explaining how it can be done. I take on board your comments re: design, but the book was never intended to be an art tome or a masterpice of graphic design, but an instructional book with the material getting straight to the core of the matter offering advice gained from real world experience rather than pipe dreams that haven't been tried and tested.
Regarding the ouija history, the page releating to this is a brief overview and as this book was not intended to be a historical treatise there are books that explore the history in more depth in the appendix.

The planchette and alphabet cards set-up (which is techinically the same as a ouija board) is detailed in that if the performance is for a larger group including those that are spectating, then utilising a bigger space makes it more visual and allows more participants which in a public performance is more likely to be the case. The intention behind the book is to, from real world experience, explain and teach ungaffed ouija which I feel it does.

Thanks for you comments.
Message: Posted by: krakhead (Nov 25, 2011 01:43PM)
I think this shows the difference in putting together a pdf and a book. Designs that work in one medium won't necessarily transfer well to the other (as seems to be in this case) Just uploading your pdf to Lulu just isn't good enough, especially with the (usual) increase in cost. Well, we live and learn don't we? (I hope! :D)

Saying that though, it behooves me to reiterate that the information in the book is, to my mind, invaluable for anyone wanting to perform Ouija sessions. I agree with the OP that you could just take this information and get a full act out of it - combine it with his other books (especially the excellent Occult magic vols 1 & 2) and you have everything you need. Combine it with Paul Voodini's 'Kiss of the Clairvoyant' and you could "start your own religion" :D

(I used the word behooves! Awesome! :D)
Message: Posted by: S.WARD (Nov 25, 2011 02:06PM)
Freddie does provide some very good information in his book and I gained a lot from it. I supplied the school yard myth and maybe the document I supplied had some layout issues or did not translate well to LULU. Fred really has a passion for the art and I am sure he will continue to write great material.
Message: Posted by: daleshrimpton (Nov 25, 2011 03:15PM)
Personally I think that any future self published works that I put out will either be download only, or.. If I do offer a hard copy, I would order one before it goes on general sale, just to check that it prints properly.
Message: Posted by: Tony Iacoviello (Nov 25, 2011 03:35PM)
How does the information in this book on using the Ouija differ from Jim Magus' book, [b] Tales from the Talking Board [/b]? For over a decade Jim's book has been considered the definative tome; does this book add anything?

Tony
Message: Posted by: krakhead (Nov 25, 2011 03:46PM)
[quote]
On 2011-11-25 16:35, Tony Iacoviello wrote:
How does the information in this book on using the Ouija differ from Jim Magus' book, [b] Tales from the Talking Board [/b]? For over a decade Jim's book has been considered the definative tome; does this book add anything?

Tony
[/quote]

Is that available? I thought it was out of print?
Message: Posted by: Tony Iacoviello (Nov 25, 2011 03:49PM)
No, it is available. I bought a 2nd copy earlier this year because my 1st one had been worn out.

Also, DMKraig, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

Tony
Message: Posted by: dmkraig (Nov 25, 2011 07:26PM)
As I wrote, there is some very good information in this book. I think the information is good both for people who have never done a seance show but want to, and for those who have done some and are looking for tips and ideas.

I wasn't looking for an "art tome," but for more than $50 I think I have the right to expect the courtesy of having a book where the text on the covers isn't so dark that it's unreadable and something on the spine. In my opinion (worth 2˘, no more) you're showing a great deal of disrespect to customers. It would have been far more decent of you to just type out some pages, staple them together, and tell people, "if you want art, buy Picasso. If you want information, get these pages." You could have sold it for half the price and probably made just as much money.

Do the decent thing, Mr. Valentine. Show some respect to your customers. At least redesign the cover so that you're not presenting such a thing. The design doesn't have to be art, just clear. Doing a decent design shows respect to your consumers (and adds to sales). Right now it's like you are coming on stage in a shirt full of holes and smelling like you haven't had a bath in a week. From the information you did present I know you're better than this.
Message: Posted by: Blueboy (Nov 25, 2011 10:21PM)
I have bought some "paperbacks" from that Lulu website,though they were well printed calling them "paperbacks" was a bit of a liberty as they were more of a fanzine than a book in appearance, produced better stuff myself. It seems like they use a printer close to your home to print it out and send it to you, so for example here in Oz I bought a "paperback" from an English guy but it was printed just down the road and stuck in the post. The quality should have been picked up by the printer in fairness to Freddy. They should have re-done it by the sounds of things, or at least had the professional integrity to fix it up a bit for him, those guys in print shops are usually quite flash on a computer and would have fixed the formatting glitches in 10mins.
Message: Posted by: Lord Freddie (Nov 26, 2011 12:57AM)
I take your comments on board and will redesign the cover. dmkraig, my offer by PM still stands if you wish to take me up on this.
The quality of Lulu's books varies somewhat, for example the Occult Magic books look great in hardback.

I have paid a lot of money for some photocopied and stapled manuscripts which contained incredibly worthwhile material but were not aesthetically pleasing.
The Ouija Book is priced to deter the curious finger flinger who thinks a ouija session is another 'trick' to be performed alongside their chop cup and sponge balls and believe me I have had some of these people ask me about adding a ouija session to their show!
Message: Posted by: Voodini (Nov 26, 2011 05:16AM)
I've not actually seen a hard copy of this book so can't comment on the design aspect. Clearly though I have read the ebook version and I do think the information within is extremely valuable, and if I didn't I wouldn't have written the preface. I just wanted to remind people that Freddie is a totally genuine proponent of our craft who over the past few years has worked tirelessly to bring very cool things to the community. He almost single handedly gave birth to the Mystic Menagerie (now there's a thought :) ), and it is only through his passion and dedication that this wonderful publication appears for sale on an almost monthly or bi-monthly basis. Without Freddie there would be no MM, and without Freddie the bizarre world would be a less colourful place.

I realise this doesn't affect whether or not the Ouija book is poorly designed, but I thought it was worth saying.
Message: Posted by: Tony Iacoviello (Nov 26, 2011 07:58AM)
Laying out a book for print is a unique skill set that takes time and practice.
I think I is very telling that Freddie has taken the comments made to heart, and is working to make his book better.

Tony
Message: Posted by: KOTAH (Nov 26, 2011 09:09AM)
I am reminded of the mimeographed'booklets' of old. Pages gathered and folded in half end to emd amd stapled at the top edge or along the folded crease,. Typed, not set print, then mimeographed to produce multiple copies. THese usually sold for $1 or $3.50- $4.00 each, A substancial sum back in the 30's or 40's. But they sold then and are still selling now, the sheer volume made thousands of dollars for the author. the magic dealers. But it was their content, clever ideas and applications. new methods handlings and principles that gave them their true value. The true value of the Freddie's book is in the content as well

The value of Freddie Valentine is in his open minded willingness to hear and heed what has been said .

Value found in pride and character.


As you've said Tony, this is quite telling indeed .

I have never met nor do I know Fredie Valentine personally.

But I do not have to meet someone to realize their intent to enhance the craft is honorable and sincere.

Kotah
Message: Posted by: Diasgemini (Nov 26, 2011 09:40AM)
[quote]
On 2011-11-26 01:57, Lord Freddie wrote:
and stapled manuscripts which contained incredibly worthwhile material but were not aesthetically pleasing.
The Ouija Book is priced to deter the curious finger flinger who thinks a ouija session is another 'trick' to be performed alongside their chop cup and sponge balls and believe me I have had some of these people ask me about adding a ouija session to their show!
[/quote]

It's a very valid and strong argument. We cannot trivialize such strong stuff like a ouija session, n@ilwritttter, pendulum or CT to balloons magicians.
I think if inside the book you find strong stuff, you need to pay the price for stopping curious people.
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Nov 26, 2011 10:14AM)
If it helps, and if anyone doesn't use them already (so spoon feeding apologies before I start)...

openoffice.org works just like word, but has the added bonus of a one click pdf creator built in...and its free, with no spam from the company and free updates too...

http://www.dafont.com is my favourite font site, with webdings (little graphics) as well as all kinds of lovely fonts...free mostly (though please donate if you can on some)...download, unzip, and if you run firefox, just right click and install...done...

and http://www.sumopaint.com - I am a designer by trade, and use photoshop at work - however, sumopaint is free to use online, have a very affordable download version available, with free online storage for images and password protected too...it also has some very interesting tools...it is as close to photoshop as you'll find, and far more sturdy than gimp and other types of freebies..

I use all three for both aeiou and thought-paths, and pretty much a doddle to use...all for freeeeeeeeee!
Message: Posted by: TH1 (Nov 26, 2011 10:50AM)
[quote]
On 2011-11-26 11:14, IAIN wrote:
...http://www.dafont.com is my favourite font site, with webdings (little graphics) as well as all kinds of lovely fonts...free mostly (though please donate if you can on some)...download, unzip, and if you run firefox, just right click and install...done...
[/quote]

Thanks for the lead on dafont.com. Was not aware of it. Great site -- and agree, donate if one finds the download(s) useful.
Message: Posted by: Tony Iacoviello (Nov 26, 2011 10:56AM)
Outside of publication issues, how does the material compare with Jim's book?
Is it a worthy supplement, or is is similar in content to portions of his book?

Tony
Message: Posted by: dmkraig (Dec 1, 2011 01:45AM)
I just wanted to let people know that Freddie was very generous and concerned that I did not feel I received my money's worth, using a PM to offer me a copy of any of his other e-books. To me this shows an interest in pleasing customer, something that is sorely missing from sellers in many fields, and I compliment him on this excellent approach to customer satisfaction. In all fairness, because it was a hard bound book, because he, I and others here don't want the information getting out to those who just want the info rather than people in the community, and because, as I stated in my review, there is some good information in the book, I turned down his gracious and generous offer. I concluded my PM response to him by writing, "My only hope is that in the future you will respect your customers enough to care about the presentation as well as the content." I would add that because of his PM I do think that he respects customers, I just hope his products will more obviously demonstrate that caring.
Message: Posted by: Lord Freddie (Dec 1, 2011 04:04AM)
I have taken the hardback version of The Ouija Board temporarily off the Lulu site while the cover and interior get an overhaul. The other books I have available as printed versions look fine such as Occult Magic, but there seems to be something wrong with the Ouija file that make is come out less than satisfactory when printed, so I shall determine what is doing this and then put it back on sale as a printed version once this has been rectified.

I like to ensure people are happy with the material and it does concern me greatly if there is something they dislike. Comments such as this are useful to me as I can put things right if they are not 100%. Lulu can be an odd beast to use at time and is not that user friendly, it may be an issue with whatever local printers they use, I am unsure, but I will do all I can to make it as best as possible.
Message: Posted by: Intrepid (Dec 1, 2011 07:08AM)
An honest review can include uncomfortable truths, too many reviews on this forum lack this honesty.  And I applaud Freddie for his sincerity in taking them to heart and using it to improve the value of his products for the benefit of his customers and himself, bravo.  Honesty of purpose is the basis of all true success.
Message: Posted by: Lord Freddie (Dec 1, 2011 07:36AM)
The intention of the Ouija Board, along with my tarot and pendulum books, is to tell those who wish to learn these skills what they need to know. Although the books may seem short, they are stripped of superflous information and features methods, ideas and presentations that have all been tested and used in the harshest of realms - that of real world performance.
I could pad the books out with colourful stories concerning ouija boards etc, but I credit the people that read these books with enough imagination to create their own presentations. I also want the information to be as direct as possible. When you are learning something, there is no room for ambiguity.
I shall re-release the hardback book with a new cover and improved layout. Although this is the only negative review/comment there has been regarding this release, I do take it very seriously and ensure that things are of the highest quality. I feel this issue was more to do with Lulu than myself, but I am in the process of improving it as much as I can.
Message: Posted by: Mind_Magic (Dec 1, 2011 08:56AM)
[quote]
On 2011-11-26 11:56, Tony Iacoviello wrote:
Outside of publication issues, how does the material compare with Jim's book?
Is it a worthy supplement, or is is similar in content to portions of his book?

Tony
[/quote]

I would like to read a comment regarding Tony´s question too.
Message: Posted by: Tony Iacoviello (Dec 15, 2011 09:10AM)
[quote]
On 2011-11-25 16:35, Tony Iacoviello wrote:
How does the information in this book on using the Ouija differ from Jim Magus' book, [b] Tales from the Talking Board [/b]? For over a decade Jim's book has been considered the definative tome; does this book add anything?

Tony
[/quote]

Anyone? He just announced the Hardcover edition.

To y
Message: Posted by: Snoogans (Sep 20, 2012 06:40AM)
Jim shipped me a copy of Tales from the Talking Board on Monday. I'm excited to get it. I've never read Valentine's The Ouija Board.

I find it somewhat humorous that people believe a piece of cardboard and plastic can "open portals".