When secrets seep out
The A, B, C of Magic. "100 coin, card and classic tricks for everyone to learn. With a little practice you'll be astonishing friends and family with your sleight of hand. They'll be wondering what else you've got up your sleeve." Two 50-trick magic specials, Part One in the Guardian on Saturday and Part Two in The Observer on Sunday. www.guardianmarketing.co.uk/magic. 15.12.07
On Thursday, December 13th, the Times featured magic tricks from Paul Zenon's book "Street Magic" first published in 2006. Then on Saturday, December 15th, the Guardian included a free 50 trick magic supplement, followed by another 50 trick magic supplement in the Observer, on Sunday 16th. I read some of Saturday's Guardian supplement, which consisted of 28 pages of magic featuring tricks and moves gleaned from the pages of "Magic Tricks to Make and Do" by Ben Denne, "The Royal Road to Card Magic" by Jean Hugard, "Encyclopedia of Card Tricks" by Jean Hugard and "Modern Coin Magic" by J B Bobo.
A friend was astonished that I'd included the news (reproduced above) with no comment.
Just because an item is on the 'News' page it doesn't mean that I am endorsing it, anymore than news broadcast on the Nine O'clock News is endorsed by the newscaster, or television station - it simply means that it is "news" or in our case "magic news".
I rarely comment on new items, however, regarding exposure, I am strongly opposed to television exposure as I think most readers know, but am not opposed to basic magic books being available in bookshops (although I've never been too sure why a magic book sold in a bookshop would choose to reveal magic gimmicks and props that the reader could only purchase through a magic shop).
One of the first magic books I ever bought was from a bookshop in Southampton; it featured back palming, and I'm very glad that it did (it was a real 'find' at the time), although you could easily argue that back palming should never have been included in a book that was on sale to the general public. In fact I'd probably argue that it shouldn't myself!
If books featuring magic secrets are published then it is inevitable that from time to time their contents will be exposed to a readership that the author never had in mind at the time of writing. When a newspaper or magazine editor decides that they would like to include some magic tricks in a feature, as has just happened in the Times, Guardian and Observer, most book publishers will jump at the chance to promote their titles, and the actual authors will have little or no say in the matter. One suggested solution is for magic authors in future to stipulate that they will only work on a magic book on the condition that the secrets contained within its pages will never be made available for promotional purposes in other publications. But it's unlikely publishers would agree to such terms.
There are no easy answers, but can you imagine what it would be like if magic books (both new titles and classics) stopped appearing in bookshops altogether? Magic books are vital. Many magicians owe their start in magic to a few good books, often purchased from a local bookshop, I wonder how many more in the future will also find that a book on magic changes the course of their lives.
Magic forum www.magicbunny.co.uk furiously discussed this topic all week, and Paul Zenon joined in.
© Duncan Trillo, December 2007