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The Magic Cafe Forum Index Ľ Ľ Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes Ľ Ľ Personal library questions (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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EvilClown
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Richmond, VA
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I am curious how many volumes (including booklets, manuscripts, lecture notes, etc.) the serious collectors on here have? I suspect there are some massive private libraries out there. I have just over 1,500 volumes and it's probably not even close to the largest in Virginia. Would love to know how people built their libraries, how they organize them? What is the book they are always trying to get but can never quite grab (mine is the Harbin book)?
Sean Piper
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I haven't done a count for sometime, but would be well over 2000 books by now. Sadly due to space limitations they're not organised in any way close to what I'd like, and many haven't even made it onto the shelf yet.

I finally nabbed a copy of the Harbin book earlier this year which would be up there as the most prized. Next "grail" would be an original first edition of Gaffed to the Hilt, with all the gimmicks Smile
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EvilClown
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I bid on one of those but couldnít get it. My best book in terms of value right now is probably either the House of Mystery or Britlandís book on Berglas.
Rachmaninov
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I have a little over 1500 books too, without counting magazines. They are organized by magazines published as books (like Apocalypse), actual magazines, books of the same author (normally alphabetically but because lack of space, itís a little mess).

Because itís a huge amount of money and time spent to gather this personal library, I wonder how many people in the world have a number of books around that size, namely one or a few thousands. I would not say so much as you suggest.
EvilClown
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I have no real idea on the number of people with over 1,000 volumes. That's one of the reasons I asked. I have no idea how much of an outlier it is.
Steven Leung
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Quote:
On Nov 4, 2019, Rachmaninov wrote:
I have a little over 1500 books too, without counting magazines. They are organized by magazines published as books (like Apocalypse), actual magazines, books of the same author (normally alphabetically but because lack of space, itís a little mess).

Because itís a huge amount of money and time spent to gather this personal library, I wonder how many people in the world have a number of books around that size, namely one or a few thousands. I would not say so much as you suggest.


The person I can think of is Gordan Bruce from Scotland if my memory serve right. Someone showed me a newspaper report he is like a collector of magic books.

I personally got several hundred of books regard topic magic, anyway it is nothing compared with many big names in magic whom they got much more in their collections.
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Wordsworth
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How do you guys think about your collection at that stage? Is it an investment? Does it cease to be something you can ever read? Given the budget, I would possess an enormous library, but realistically right now I probably own around 100 proper books. And ironically, though I sometimes cringe at the amounts I'm spending on them, I'd guess I've made a large paper profit, though I plan to never sell. I have a feeling I'll be adding to the collection my entire life, and never be able to read it all.
EvilClown
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At 1,500+ volumes, almost all of which have been acquired in the past 3 years, there is no way I could read them all in my life.

Some of it is an investment. I am pretty careful about the price I pay and there is no book I could not say no to if the price was more than I was willing to pay. But it's an investment of questionable value. I mean, right now, my copy of Britland's book on Berglas is probably worth $500. But if someone reprinted it, the value is going to drop precipitously. With the ability to scan and pirate books out there, the number of buyers who have an imperative to acquire certain titles for the actual knowledge they contain is lower. Plenty of people are happy to jump on Scribd to see stuff posted by jerks who are stealing good work. So while my collection is worth more than I paid for it, that is potentially fleeting. I think of all the people who bought the Johnny Thompson book to hold as an investment and then flipped out when Magicana reprinted, or the people sitting on the Books of Wonder when Hermetic/Penguin reprinted all but unannounced. And is the material of interest today going to continue to be of interest tomorrow? Caveney's book on Keller goes for about $250 used. Will people still care about Keller in 50 years?

Some of it is a reference. I live in Richmond, VA. My ability to hit any of the major collections of magic literature if I need something is limited. On another post, I listed the libraries I knew of that had large holdings in our art that a person might be able to access--Conjuring Arts in NY, The Magic Castle (membership required), The Magic Circle (membership required), Brown University, The Victoria State Library, The American Magic Museum and the Library of Congress. Other than LoC, all of this is a special trip to do research. Most local hobbyists don't have broad collections I can lean on.

Some of it is a weird form of altruism. Because of the limited access that many magicians have to major collections, I make mine available to people who are referred to me by folks I trust. If they are willing to travel here and use the materials here (since I am not going to lend anything out--it will never be returned) and can work it with my schedule, I welcome serious magicians to use my resources. All I may ask in return is to show me what they are working on or to help me learn something I am working on so I can continue my own efforts to improve my skills. It is going to be difficult to grow our art if we lock away the resources we individually have access to. One day, I would like to create a formal legal structure for this. I call this my library project. We need to create additional libraries that are accessible to serious students of the art who may not financially be able to assemble a collection like some of us have been able to do. It is one of many things we can do to grow and revitalize our art.

This is also why I sell a lot of books on-line. I get duplicates if I buy large lots or I can acquire something way under market. Those sales allow me to buy more books for my library project.
WitchDocChris
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For me, my library is a working library. I buy the books I will read and study for my work. I'm not sure of the current count as I kind of went on a binge recently, but somewhere in the region of 250 physical books. Of those I've read probably 80% cover to cover.

I assume at some point I will have a library that's quite extensive.

One thing I wonder - do you folks who have 1000+ volumes have all of those books cataloged somewhere? A friend of mine keeps a spreadsheet/database thing with every book title, author, purchased value, ISBN if applicable, and a picture of the cover. I am considering starting something like that now so that I can just maintain it, instead of trying to tackle it later when I will feel like it's an overwhelming task. Apparently this is useful for insurance purposes.
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Rachmaninov
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Yes, Iím keeping a database of everything I have. Rather simple, just the title, author, publisher, number of pages, language and a sign if Iíve already studied it.
I was wondering at one time to take pictures of each book in front of me for insurance in case of. But as most of the books are now out of print, they would be definitely lost if something would happen to them. I should have kept bills instead.

My library is a working library too. Thatís why with 1500 books on magic, thousands dvd and ebooks, plus a few hundred titles on different other arts, I have pretty much everything I need to work on for 1000 yearsÖ
EvilClown
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I use Bookpedia. It may only be for Mac, but I like itís flexibility to create custom fields so I can track unique to magic things like a trick list or which magicians contributed.
Rachmaninov
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Iím a little lost with what you describe Evilclown. Do you have access to the contents of the books via this software ?
EvilClown
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Not the contents. It just keeps track of what I have, where it is in my collection and a lot of other data points I enter.
boboswitch
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Thank you to those here who mentioned a library catalogue. I have a large library and embarrassingly find myself sometimes buying a book that I already own. Admitting that is also admitting that I have not read all of my books. I've decided after reading this thread that it is past time for me to keep better track.

On a personal note, while having some attractive titles in my library, I am most proud of my collection of hard to find works from geniuses such as Michael Weber, Goldstein/Maven, Alain Nu, and Joe Barry.
Rachmaninov
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It happened to me in the past. Iíve purchased a few books I already haveÖ

When Vanishing inc sent all his clients a note saying that a friend of them has lost everything in a fire, magicians were welcomed to send anything magical to him, I decided to send all the books I had twice. Including the magic castle notebook I have purchased twice on purpose because I thought it would increase in value in the future.

How many books do you have boboswitch ?
WitchDocChris
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I actually hit that milestone just recently. Purchased an extraneous copy of Capricornian Tales.
Christopher
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Rachmaninov
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Now that Iím sure I will never read everything I have in my library, Iíve stopped purchasing magic books since 2 years. Just one or two here and there.

Like you Evilclown, Iím planning to build a house next year with a nice library and studying tables. My idea is to welcome any magician to come and work in my home. Like you, I will never lend books anymore because you can say them good bye.
EvilClown
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100% chance people will never return them if you lend them. Not sure I would let anyone in but if they come to me referred by some I know, I am good with it.

As for buying the same book twice (besides those I snag cheap for resale)--I have done it more times than I care to say. I once bought the same book from the same dealer twice within a week. Not smart....
boboswitch
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Rachmaninov,

As I mentioned, I need to perform an intentional survey of my library. I looked through my shelving units tonight, as well as my storage, and I am estimating my library to include between 2000 and 2500 books. I also have complete files of many original magazines (including Sphinx) and I have original files of most all of Fulves "off the market stuff." I probably will not stop buying as there are so many great new offerings that I don't want to miss out on (e.g., magic by Paul Brook, Mike Powers, Steve Spill, Nick Trost, Annemann, Ong).
boboswitch
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I am impressed how generous a few of you are to give others access to your libraries. I have lent some materials out as well. However, in a couple of cases, I understood the creator/author wanted their material to stay limited to purchasers. While difficult to do, I have turned people down to look at some works that I own. To me, that is an integrity issue. I feel as though if a creator wants to keep his/her creations somewhat exclusive, I have a contract with the creator that I refuse to break. Thoughts?
The Magic Cafe Forum Index Ľ Ľ Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes Ľ Ľ Personal library questions (2 Likes)
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