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Profile of Enigmo
I was wondering what attributes a perfect magic book would have? In other words, if I was to write a book, what would be my ultimate goal?

And before you say a book written by so and so, let's keep this non specific. Also, my question pertains to instructional book of magic (no biographies, history, etc...).

Here's my own list so far:

1- A book should lay flat, preferably hardcover.

2- The pages should be good quality paper.

3- Each trick would present the effect, requirements both in material and set-up (table, standing, mat required, etc...). I shouldn't have to go through the whole description to figure out what this is about.

4- The tricks described should have been tested in front of an audience.

5- The tricks described should have been tested by someone else than the author/creator.

6- Clear pictures showing front and back views (where necessary).

7- Credits, references at the end of each trick (not at the end of the book).

8- In the case of improvement over existing versions, the perceived weakness of the original should be described.
Tom Jorgenson
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Profile of Tom Jorgenson
•It should justify its own existence; To Simpsonize it: The purchaser should be embiggened by the book.
We dance an invisible dance to music they cannot hear.
Larry Barnowsky
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Profile of Larry Barnowsky
I've written two books on magic, 21st Century Coin Mechanics and Kingdom of the Red. Based on my experience I'll comment on each one of your points as it relates to the books I've published. I know you want this to be non specific, but I rather comment on something I know a bit about rather than a theoretical discussion with no examples.

1. Unless it's a small manuscript, a hardcover is the way to go. It lasts much longer; pages won't fall out. I chose Case Bound editions for both of my books. A cloth cover (or leather) is desirable and it's a nice touch to have a gold imprint on the spine and front.

2. Paper quality is important especially if you have black and white or color photos. The better paper will allow more shades of grey to be visible (greater dynamic range so more detail shows). I used #80 weight gloss enamel paper for both of my books. The thicker enamel page is of course more expensive but you can tell the difference each time you turn a page. There is also less shine through from photos and type. An attractive dustjacket is a plus. A picture of the author and a short bio is desirable.

3. I agree about having clarity regarding the effect and the material organized so it is easily understood. My new book uses the following format:

Effect, Skills Needed, Props Needed, Setup, Apparatus Construction (if needed), Explanation and Script, Discussion, Step-by-Step Synopsis. Credits are included in the Discussion section.

4. Of course the effects must have been thoroughly tested before audiences. Books should not include pipe dreams of effects or devices that have never been performed or even constructed.

5. On this point I have to disagree. As a practical point, finding people who you can trust (to keep it secret and not expose it by a bad performance) and who are interested in performing all your effects to test them for a book is a difficult task and a lot to ask. I would however say that an author should only put material in a book that can be learned with practice by others by just reading the book.

6. Clear views of the moves and sleights is essential. Ideally, the photos (or drawings) should show the required movement in a step like fashion. Other views are often needed to clarify the proper position and movement. A companion DVD is also desirable for books that contain new sleights and moves.

7. I place the credits in the Discussion section at the end of the chapter. Sometimes it's mentioned during the explanation. I include a list of book and video references at the end of the book.

8. It's helpful to explain why you modified an existing effect. It may be because you've strengthened the overall effect or maybe you've streamlined it making it faster or even easier to perform. It good to read about what the creator was thinking when he came up with the changes.

9. I would add this additional point. Books should be thoroughly proofread and checked for bad grammar. Spellchecking won't be sufficient. Also the author should check that the descriptions are clear and go with the photos or figures as described in the text. This is tedious work but needs to be done before publication.

I hope this helps. Smile


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Profile of apple123
It should be illustrated just like Nicholas Einhorn's Art Of Magic. I wish every book was.
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Profile of apple123
And something else which I should have mentioned which is important and that is size. I bought The Amateur Magicians Handbook not realizing that it was a mass market paperback edition in other words, pocket book size. As a result the photos in it are not very clear.
This is another reason why The Art Of Magic is enjoyable to read. It's a large book and is in my opinion one of the best beginners books to read. Easily available in libraries if you want to check it out.
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Profile of Magikrn
It should be Tyler Wilson's Dominatricks..... Smile

I feel as long as the effects are good and I can understand what the author is trying to convey, it is a good book. I have read some books that are a pain in the butt to follow, but those were very old books I took out of the library and were written in old time english.
Jeff Haas
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Profile of Jeff Haas
Apple123...there is a hardbound version of The Amateur Magician's Handbook, it's larger and so the photos are bigger and clearer. If you like the book, it's worth searching out that edition.
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Profile of apple123
Thank you Jeff for letting me know. That's the very one I'm referring to. I know you can get it in paperback but it's the hard back edition I have. The best produced magical book I have or come to think of it any book I have. Full colour photos throughout which makes following it a doddle. And it's mighty heavy. On a par with The Secrets Of Brother John Hammond in that respect.
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Profile of apple123
Oh wait a minute, I misread your post Jeff. I thought you were talking about the Einhorn book. I see now it was Hay's. Oh yes, I know there is a hardback edition of The Amateur Magicians Handbook because this was the one I really wanted. Too expensive at the time so I settled for a paperback edition not realizing it was pocket books size. I wish I hadn't bothered and waited for a cheaper copy in hardback because it's hardbacks I love reading.
Talking about attractly produced books, the hardback cover of the most recent edition of the Amateur Magicians Handbook is up there with the best of them. It really is nice.
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