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Regular user
Greenville, NC
130 Posts

Profile of Katterfel22
Good point.
I should have included Harlan Tarbell's Course In Magic. It's got History, Technique and Patter combined.
I also found a site http://www.lybrary.com that has a lot of the classic books in ebook format for purchase or download.
I haven't gotten anything from them yet but the volume of classic texts they have seems impressive.
Cave ab homine unius libri - Latin epigram
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New user
Chino, California
12 Posts

Profile of RickCastro
The Tarbell Course is a great course and Now a days it is sometimes available on eBay for under $100! What a deal! Good Luck!
Rick Castro
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128 Posts

Profile of oso2you
Amazon.com is a great source for new and used magic books. I just bought a used hardbound copy of the Amateur Magicians Handbook. You can find many older classic books there.
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Isle of Palms, SC
80 Posts

Profile of wildarr
Just a comment about Henry Hay's The Amateur Magician's Handbook:

It is a fantastic book covering many facets of magic. I still have an old paperback copy that I bought back in the 1970's.

However, like many classic texts, it puts a lot of emphasis on The Pass as a card sleight. I remember being frustrated with the feeling that the first sleight I should learn was one of the hardest.

I think feelings about The Pass have changed over the years, and while still a valuable sleight, the young mage probably should not lose too much sleeps starting there.

Definitely a must have for the book collector in all of us!
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New user
Wales, UK
43 Posts

Profile of silverhawkins
Royal Road to Card Magic-Hugard & Braue was my first book. I've had it years and I'm still learning...then the encyclopaedia of card magic to follow it also has loads more tricks and sleights.

Definitely worth purchasing those two if you're into card magic.

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Regular user
Greenville, NC
130 Posts

Profile of Katterfel22
I thought I should mention that the DAI VERNON BOOK of MAGIC has just been reprinted recently. Though some of the techniques and references are not strictly for begginers, the ideas, theory and explanations in the book are invaluable to a learning magician. I honestly wish I had this book much earlier in my magic career.
A couple of other books I should mention are the "Practical Encyclopedia of Magic" by Nicholas Einhorn. At first glance I looked it over because it looked way to flashy
to be a serious magic book, but I was wrong. It varies from simple stuff to some very comercial tricks. Everything in the book is also illustrated in full color for the more visually oriented among us.
Finally, for those who wish to enter bizarre magic, there is no better book that I have seen than Christian Chelman's "Capricornian Tales". If this kind of magic is what you are interested in this book will save you a lot of false starts.
Cave ab homine unius libri - Latin epigram
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New user
Fort Worth, TX
61 Posts

Profile of doulos
Personal votes are -

Henry Hay's Amature Magicians Handbook: Very good cross section of over all magic
Mark Wilson's Complete Magic Course: Well written/ great illustrations
Hugard's Modern Magic Manual: Another fine book (sure do miss mine)
Bobo Modern Coin Magic: All the moves you will ever use.
Hugard Royal Road to Card Magic: great addition to all of the above
Bill Tarr - Now You See It (vol1&2): Great Illustrations

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59 Posts

Profile of jayhoward
Is there anyone who feels that it's better to skip books and go right to DVDs, which not only provide a visual of the sleight or trick, but also allow you to see the presentation? After reading several books I'm starting to feel I'd rather have a DVD with ten different illusions or tricks, as opposed to a thick encyclopedia-like book with hundreds of tricks.
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59 Posts

Profile of jayhoward
What's anyone's take on DVD versus books? Are the DVDs worth the extra money to be able to see the "live" presentation?
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Austin, TX
226 Posts

Profile of djrdjr
I feel it depends on what works for the individual. When I was trying to learn to juggle, I had a juggler standing next to me, teaching me how to do it. I could not pick it up. But when I read the instructions printed on a cheap set of juggling balls, I picked it up almost immediately. For some people the printed word just works better. For others, DVDs or personal instruction will work better. It's going to be difficult for anyone to guess what will work best for anyone else. Experiment a little. Smile
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190 Posts

Profile of Cheety
If ur going to buy a dvd that explains the book, don't buy both, first buy the book and see if you can go thru it without the dvd, you could always use the money for sumthin else
Mostly Harmless ^_^
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62 Posts

Profile of frog52
When I started magic, videos were more helpful than books: I got to see new effects and presentation styles, together with detailed explanations of all the moves (try learning an Elmsley count just from a written description).

Nowadays, I know a few moves, and the key effects, so I like studying the details: books are more useful to me now.
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St. Louis
171 Posts

Profile of Tyler
I agree frog. I'm old school and learned the old fashioned way with books. It was frustrating because some moves and sleights are just easier seen in a DVD than explained in a book. I usually gave up and came back to it later... sometimes years later! I own the Elmsley DVDs and Vol. 1 of his complete works. I read, enjoyed and worked through the book. Then I watched the DVD. While Elmsley did a great job explaining the sleights, the book emphasized so much more. I'm sure I would have missed some nuances on even the basic moves ( Elmsley Count - been using the two-handed finger pinch for years and the way Elmsley did it and Minch described it in the book made the move 100 times more visual and 1000 times easier to do) In short, I find that books are more useful now - but it's nice to see some items actually performed especially by their creators.
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559 Posts

Profile of pradell
For free access to many magical books go to http://www.thelearnedpig.com.pa and take the "simple" magical test. If you pass, you get access to these free books:

202 Methods of Forcing--Annemann
A Real Magic Show--Lane
Adventures in Many Lands--Zancig
Annemann's Card Miracles--Annemann
Annemann's Buried Treasure--Annemann
Annemann's Mental Mysteries--Annemann
Annual of Magic 1937--Hugard
Annual of Magic 1938--Hugard
Behind the Scenes with the Mediums--Abbott
Encyclopedia of Card Tricks--Hugard
Golden Jubilee Book of Magic--Christopher
Here's How--Lane
History of Magic and Magicians--Burlingame
It's Fun to be Fooled--Goldin
Latter Day Tricks--Roterberg
Magical Deceptions--Crayford
Magical Originalities--Noakes
Miracle Mongers and their Methods--Houdini
Miracles in Modern Magic--Whiteley
Modern Card Effects--DeLawrence-Thompson
My Magic Life--Devant
Our Magic--Maskelyne
Our Mysteries--Sphinx Magazine
Paper Magic--Houdini
Sensational Tales of Mystery Men--Goldston
Si Stebbins Card Tricks--Stebbins
The Haunted Hat--Hoffmann
The Lives of the Conjurers--Frost
They're Off!--Lane-Grant

There's a lot more on the website, so check it out!

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Profile of morpheus777
Hi guys! I think I'm in the right place !! first of all excuse me my english mistakes (Im a brazilian living in japan)Im new here too ,I love magic and Id like to buy not a book but dvd(s) because I think is better to learn .
I saw several of them ,but I don't know what is the better to start .Id like that you give some titles(about cards).
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New user
59 Posts

Profile of jayhoward
First, thanks to everyone for sharing their thoughts on the DVD vs book question. To Morpheus, I would say for cards, hands down get the 5 set Wilson video that accompanies "The Royal Road to Magic."

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New user
59 Posts

Profile of jayhoward
I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, as the topic is quite lengthy, but magic is as much about presentation as it is the techniques or sleights. I feel Ortiz's "Strong Magic" should be required reading for anyone who wants to know about the performance end, which is really what awes spectators, as opposed to just the technical end.

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Loyal user
Upstate New York
278 Posts

Profile of LDM
It's a great book, but I would recommend "Magic and Showmanship" by Henning Nelms, first. It's cheap, and one of the definitive books on magical presentation.
Robert Dye
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2 Posts

Profile of Robert Dye
I started with "The Amateur Magician's Handbook," by Henry Hay. It's pretty good, but you may have a hard time finding it. I do recall seeing a bargain style reprint a few years ago, but have not seen it again in at least five years.

I learned a one-handed cut from Hay's book, but I don't recommend it for that. His OHC is very difficult and illogical. Just a few days ago, I started looking at magic again, and came across Mark Wilson's book. When I tried his instructions for a OHC I was astonished at how easy it was.

So I suppose my recommendation of a good book for a beginner is to NOT go with just one book. You may find that you are using a book in which the magician had trouble explaining something, or did it the hard way. Checking two or three sources might make things go a little more smoothly.
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Special user
Columbus, Ohio
871 Posts

Profile of MagiClyde
I got my copy of "The Amateur Magician's Handbook" on Ebay just a couple of months ago. If memory serves me right, it has been out of print for a while. Hard to understand why when one considers it one of the classics in magic.

As for the book vs dvd debate, I side quite heavily with dvds. Books are sometimes very hard for me to understand, as the author's writing style may not be to my liking. Also, video images, with their changes in perspective may provide me with a clue on how to do something that the books miss.
Magic! The quicker picker-upper!
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