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Dr. JK
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Sandusky, OH
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For those who have been bit by the “magic book bug”, you will understand this essay/question. For others, that moment has not yet happened, but it most likely will.

My question is: how did your love for magic books start? What’s your story? For me, it was not with the purchase of my first books.

When I first got into magic, I bought a lot of single tricks/effects/utility devices. Part of that was due to my introduction to magic. It had been at a magic shop where the person behind the counter was demoing some standard single tricks to the tourists (me). So naturally, I continued to do what I knew (buying single tricks) as my magic interest continued.

I don’t remember who first suggested it to me, but I ended up buying a few books shortly thereafter. I purchased Bobo’s New Modern Coin Magic, Hugard & Braue’s Royal Road to Card Magic, and later, The Magic of Michael Ammar. Interestingly enough, the “beginner” books weren’t exciting enough for me (the tricks explained with the sleights just weren’t sexy [at the time]), but the Magic of Michael Ammar was too advanced. I did learn things from all of them that helped me advance my magic, but nothing that really made me long for magic books. Besides, at the time I didn’t have a steady source of income or a way to buy things online, so purchases were few and far between anyway.

Well, fast forward to my next book purchases. At this point, I have a good job, steady income, and I’m allowed to spend it any way I want. Smile Wow. I purchased David Regal’s Approaching Magic, Paul Harris’s Art of Astonishment 1-3, and Harry Lorayne’s The Classic Collection. It was these purchases that ignited the fire of book buying. Within the pages of these books, I found real magic. Not just simple pick-a-card tricks, but magic that sent my imagination soaring.

I quickly discovered that books like these contain effects that I would buy individually for large sums. For example, years ago, I would easily have spent $10-20 each on manuscripts describing effects such as Out of This Universe, Impromptu Out of This World, Lazy Man’s Card Trick, Foursome, The Easy Indicator, etc. Instead, I got all of them and so much more in Lorayne: The Classic Collection. What a bargain!

I won’t bore you with all of the other books that followed and the gems I found within their pages, but suffice it to say that I realized I have been missing out all this time. To bring things full circle, after making these new purchases, I went back to the books I already owned, and my eyes were opened to new possibilities from their pages (that is the beauty of books: you can always go back to learn things from them, things you might have passed over in the past because you were not yet ready for them). Because of these new tricks I was learning and performing, I began to buy more books. So far, I have not been disappointed with any of the purchases I’ve made. I’ve learned something from all of them!

I’ve droned on long enough with my story: let’s hear your stories about how you fell in love with magic books!
- Jeff Kowalk, The Psychic CPA
IG: @erudite.magic
Cameron Francis
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The first magic books I fell in love with were actually magic catalogues. This was a LONG time ago when I was a kid. I loved flipping through catalogues, looking at the pictures and reading about the tricks, wondering how they worked. Do shops still do catalogues? I can't imagine many do.
MOMENT'S NOTICE LIVE 3 - Six impromptu card tricks! Out now!
Dr. JK
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Sandusky, OH
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Hmmm. Good point. I used to run those things ragged....

I think some stores still do have catalogs, but usually only for the newest releases.
- Jeff Kowalk, The Psychic CPA
IG: @erudite.magic
Tom G
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The only option was books. No video/dvd, internet. Lectures, conventions, and books were the choices.
Larry Barnowsky
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Cooperstown, NY where bats are made from
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DVDs have their place but tend to create cloned performances. Fine points and details are better described in a book. A book lets the reader use his imagination to personalize the effect to his own performing style.
My first card book was Card Mastery by MacDougal which also included the text of Erdnase. My favorite early books were Close Up Card Magic (Now, Lorayne The Classic Collection 1) and Stars of Magic.

Larry Smile
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The person I first learned magic from operated a small shop within a department store. He was always showing me card and coin effects that came from booklets that he owned, but also sold at his counter. He showed me magic by Vernon, Lorayne, Dingle, Garcia, Benzais and many more. And it all came from these wonderful small booklets that sold for around $5 or $6 dollars and were packed with great stuff. For a teenager without a job, those small booklets were both affordable and valuable for the information they contained.

That's how I gained my appreciation and love for books, which has endured up until today.
"If you ever write anything about me after I'm gone, I will come back and haunt you."
– Karl Germain
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The first book I learned from was actually One Degree. I used to just learn from DVDs. Now I regret not getting into books earlier. The wealth of information you get is amazing. You get more than just tricks, you get the full detail and nuances that you couldn't get from a DVD, not too mention the great theory you get to read that makes you actually think.

It sounds cliche but I believe that my magic has evolved in a original way.

I do have an addiction a tad, I order in excess. So I create a library for myself that I can keep coming back to.

The tricks you find hidden books are simply astounding.
big dan
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Hey Cameron I remember those catalogues, they were awesome! They were so old school! I used to get one from Kaymar Magic and it had plastic comb binding and each page was basically scraps of text and pictures that were arranged onto a page and then photocopied to make a single A4 page. Repeat 500 times and your done! Maybe that's why they hardly ever re-printed the catalogues!

For me I have always bought books but I still have some on my shelf that I have never really read (like Bobo, not much of a coin guy, yet!), but when I managed to source a copy of John Bannon's Dear Mr Fantasy (before it was reprinted) this brought the world of magic books back to me. It felt like John was talking to me through the book, having a laid back conversation and showing me some mind blowing card tricks!

Since then I much prefer to get a book than a dvd, and it has made me hunt for well written and produced magic books that actually have something to say. I don't mind dense magic volumes but I am always searching for a book with a bit of playfulness and character where the personality of the author really shines through!

Reading books makes you smarter, reading magic books makes you a smarter magician!! Smile
Some people work to ski....i ski to work!
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I was researching the Invisible Pass, and bought Expert at the Card Table to learn it. I practiced that for weeks on end just to get it smooth.
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The first magic book I bought was the Dover reprints of Expert Card Magic and The Encyclopedia of Card Tricks. I had been into magic for about two weeks, and then I saw a guy do insane stuff with a borrowed deck. I asked him where I could learn to do tricks like that, and he pulled those two books of the shelf of the magic store we were in.

Suffice to say, Expert was too hard and Encyclopedia to vague.

About a week later, I got Harry Lorayne's "The Magic Book." I read it from cover to cover, and have come back to it many, many times since then. It was while reading that book that my love of magic books took hold, and now, fourteen years later, I still get a shiver of joy any time I start to read a new book!

There was a time when I tried DVDs - everyone was buying them, there must be SOMETHING good there! After one or two, I gave up. I found them to be slow, hard to learn from, and unenjoyable.
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I remember it well ...

It was 1584 and we had just finished executing 27 peasants for stealing rye from the granary. It was a slow day so I decided to visit the local Barnes and Noble and instantly became enamored of a book by this chap named "Scot."

Sorry, had to take my meds.

Now where was I? Oh yes!! Someone had shown me Out of This World and fortunately for me, this guy didn't know how to keep a secret and told me it was in Scarne on Card Tricks. (It's not called that in the book). So, for a mere 5.95 USD, my love affair with books started and has continued unabated. I remember those fun days because like Cameron, I would look through catalogs from Tannen's and literally ACHE to know the secrets behind these miracles. About six months later I found the godsend to all magicians known as Dover Publications. Whammo man!! Expert Card Technique, Card Manipulations, Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, and Magic and Showmanship all in one go!!

Yeah, I like DVDS but books are da bomb (or whatever explosive or substance is used now to describe something that is sick which of course means not sick). My "mistress" of sorts has been e-books in the last few years. Yes, I hear the three of you in the back row grumbling, but, I love them and they ARE books Smile

Dr. JK
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Glad to see that this thread hasn't completely died! I love reading everyone's story and hope to see more added. Thanks to everyone who has contributed.
- Jeff Kowalk, The Psychic CPA
IG: @erudite.magic
jay kirwan
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Apart from the Dover titles, the one book

that impressed me as a teenager was, the

Supreme magic publication "Another Book" by

Karrell Fox. The "kiss' theory contained therein

is still valid to all my magic decisions

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There are more treasures in a magic book. I love the little things you find. The conjuring anthology is one reason. That book is worth GOLD in my eyes. Book slike that open my eyes to so many things that are hidden. Love it
Failed Magician
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I started with DVD's to be honest as it is visual teaching. But then it's kinda bug me when I have to pause, and find the exact seconds about some movements. With books I can stare at it and re-do everything for so many times.

So I have a divided love between books and DVDs but I gotta say that I enjoy both of them.

I agree with Isaiah that books have hidden gems, that not many might even aware of. So I have decided to buy some old books about sleighs.
Magic comes through perception. -HS
Steven Keyl
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For me the effect was gradual. I owned and had read through a few books but found them more awkward than using a DVD. The more books I read, however, that feeling has completely reversed itself. Now, I much prefer books to DVDs, though of course I use both quite frequently.

One of the first books I ever owned was Stars of Magic. Read through it a couple times, decided I'd never be able to do that material and sold it. Re-bought it later (after having read quite a few books and improving my chops) and saw about 1,000 things that I missed the first time around.

"When you re-read a classic you do not see in the book more than you did before. You see more in you than there was before."
~Clifton Fadiman
Steven Keyl - The Human Whisperer!

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"If you ever find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause, and reflect." --Mark Twain
Josh Chaikin
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For me, it was a matter of economics. I was around 14 years old when I was getting (back) into magic, and did purchase one or two VHS tapes. I quickly realized that a $30 tape had roughly six tricks, while a book, not much more at $45, could have 30 or more tricks.

My local shop still does have a catalog, though it hasn't been updated in years, but the L&L catalog did help guide my decisions. I could read the descriptions of the effects in the books, and tapes, and would notice that there would often be overlap between the two.

Now it's fun to break out material from them for my DVD-only friends. Smile
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Like Vlad and Cameron, I too perused catalogs as a youngster. However, my passion for reading magic books developed as a young adult when I purchased and read my first magic book: The Amateur Magician's Handbook by Henry Hay (real name: June Barrows Mussey). To this day, I still enjoy reading portions of Hay's book.
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I learned by reading everything by Harry Lorayne and Paul Harris when I was a teenager (a long time ago). After 30 years a good part of my repertoire are routines from those books unchanged from when I first read them.
Lakewood, Ohio
Peo Olsson
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For me it all startded with the books of Lewis Ganson, I think it was during the 80's. I purchased every book of him. I think Lewis was/is the grand master of the magical writing. His books of Dai Vernon keeps me still in aww. Now these books are found bounded together in one beautiful volume from L & L Publishing "The Essential Dai Vernon".

Here is what Denny Haily has to say about Lewis:

"Lewis Ganson (1913 - December 22, 1980) was born in London, England and become one of the most prolific writers in magic. He went on to write more than sixty books on magic.
For years, he was the editor of Harry Stanley's The Gen, my personal favorite magazine, and contributor to Magigram magazines. He was also a vice president of the British Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.
Lewis Ganson was a professional close-up magician, except for his time in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps 1939-1958.

So now you know a little bit about Lewis Ganson. Now let me tell you a bit more.
Lewis Ganson remains my personal favorite author on magic. When I think back to all the magic I have learned throughout my career, I find that most of my knowledge was gained by reading the books of Lewis Ganson, Jean Hugard, and Harlan Tarbell. These are three names that mean very little to today's new magicians and yet when they ask me questions, most of my answers come from these three authors.

Before Dai Vernon and Slydini became the magical icons that they are today, they went on a lecture tour of Europe which was sponsored by Harry Stanley in London. Like Houdini, they took their magic to Europe, created a sensation, and then returned to America as superstars. Who do you think wrote their books for them? It was Lewis Ganson. He put their magic into print. Harry Stanley published them. Just think of the impact those books had on magic.

I had the pleasure of meeting this man only once. I believe it was in 1967 during a leave from Vietnam. I had volunteered to do another tour in Vietnam and the Army gave me a free thirty day leave anywhere in the world. I chose London. Why did I choose London? Well, that was the home of Harry Stanley's Unique Magic Studios, Ken Brooke's Magic Place, Davenport's, Inzani Henley's Magic Shop, and others. Blackpool, England was also where I saw the live performances of Tommy Cooper, Johnny Hart, and Silvan.
I was not disappointed in my choice for as I sat with Alan Alan in Harry Stanley's Unique Magic Studios, Lewis Ganson walked in. He sat down at the table where Alan and I were sitting and began to chat with us. Believe me, at only twenty years old I was just thrilled to be occupying the same general space as this man. It was a great day for me.

Reading the works of Lewis Ganson is a thrill and a learning experience that will last you your entire life. There should be a spot in your library to house as many of the Lewis Ganson books that are still obtainable."
Pictured to the left my hero and me during FISM 2006 in Stockholm.
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