Robert-Houdin

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Postby Todd Karr » 10/18/02 09:56 PM

Hi, everyone:

Christian Fechner's unbelievable book The Magic of Robert-Houdin is due soon. The Miracle Factory is releasing the book as soon as it's shipped from France, probably early to mid-December.

You can find out more about the book at our official site www.miraclefactory.org or www.roberthoudin.com .

As you can see by the earlier post by Mark Jensen, who is one of our good customers and friends, the competition of the marketplace works and we're happy people have a choice of dealers. Although our price is the normal early price of $200, you may get your book more quickly through us!

Best wishes to everyone,
Todd Karr
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Postby Matthew Field » 10/19/02 06:30 PM

This is one I'm really looking forward to.

See the Fechner cover story in the November Genii, then save up your pennies for this book

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Postby MaxNY » 10/19/02 07:12 PM

$200?? I'll take two! Pretty steep I might say.
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Postby Pete Biro » 10/19/02 09:14 PM

Richard was working like a demon at the Magic Castle swap meet this morning... selling subscriptions to Genii... and the Fechner issue is GORGEOUS... Can't wait to get the book (I have his first, Soiree's Fantastique (SP?) and wish I had bought half a dozen to sell! :D
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Postby Todd Karr » 10/19/02 09:23 PM

Many thanks to everyone for your kind support! Fechner's research and illustrations are mind-boggling.
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Postby Guest » 10/19/02 09:46 PM

Todd,
The release of great books like the ones from your company are in direct conflict with my proposed minimalism. Take a break or something will ya?! I love Robert-Houdin, and I can't wait for this release! The ad in MAGIC is beautiful. Now seriously, stop it.
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Postby Todd Karr » 10/19/02 10:13 PM

John:
Sorry, no break in sight. Coming soon: the complete Al Baker anthology and a huge Mystery School book by Eugene Burger and Jeff McBride. Glad you like our releases!
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Postby Guest » 10/20/02 11:44 AM

Oh good, a Mystery School book...NOW I CAN get a break! :D
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Postby Todd Karr » 10/20/02 12:51 PM

John:
I'm glad you'll get a break! (Just to let you know what you'll miss in the superb Mystery School book: great material by Dan Harlan, Paul Harris, Kevin James, Vito Lupo, Patrick Martin, Max Maven, Stephen Minch, Robert Neale, David Parr, Peter Samelson, and a host of others, plus essays by Eugene Burger and, for the first time, material from Jeff McBride's stage act!)
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Postby Mark Jensen » 10/20/02 05:17 PM

Hi Todd,

Sounds like some great stuff coming soon. I love my collector's edition of Germain. Will any of these releases have collector's editions?

Also, when you say soon...are we talking this year, 1st quarter of next, etc?

Best,

Mark
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Postby Todd Karr » 10/20/02 06:43 PM

Mark:
Glad you're happy with your deluxe Germain. As for the Robert-Houdin book, as Fechner says, the regular edition IS the deluxe edition! So to answer your question, there's one edition. As for our other upcoming releases, stay tuned!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/20/02 11:22 PM

When you see Christian Fechner's book on Robert-Houdin, you'll understand why $200 is a low price to be asking. Two huge books in a slipcase, printed on heavy enamel stock, color, all of which adds up to just about breaking even (NOT making money) at $200.
Shame on anyone who sell it for less than its retail price! It is already a bargain. My advice to readers of the forum is to purchase the book from its United States distributor even if it's a few dollars more, because you are helping to encourage the future productions of books like this.
If all you want to do is buy stuff at a bargain, eventually you will end up with only bargain stuff to buy.
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Postby MaxNY » 10/21/02 05:01 AM

Richard I'm not saying I want a bargin, just saying that $200 is a lot of money for ANY kind of a book...I tap out around $100, and this is TWICE that. I remember a great quote by David Roth, when asked about George Kaplan's book, (by the Daily News, NYC), David said it was priced high to keep the duffers away. Back in the day, you could do that...I'm just questioning, is it still happening today?
---All this coming from a guy who wants $400 for a Blaine poster he scraped from the walls of NYC...
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Postby Mark Jensen » 10/21/02 09:13 AM

As someone who is also selling this fabulous set of books I'd like to clairify a couple points.

1. Todd and I have talked and have no problem with us both pre-selling The Magic of Robert-Houdin. (He even states so at the beginning of this topic).

2. The Retail price is $250, not $200 or $185. Todd's $200 and my $185 are the pre-publication prices that we set.

3. I think that Todd would agree that there are pros and cons from ordering from either of us depending on what your buying criteria are.

4. Todd can correct me if I'm wrong on this one, but I believe that there are 2 US distributors for the book (Todd and Murphy's). (I also asked Todd if he was wholesaling the books and he said that he isn't).

Best Regards,

Mark Jensen
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Postby Todd Karr » 10/21/02 09:40 AM

Hi again:

Just to clarify, The Miracle Factory is handling all distribution of The Magic of Robert-Houdin and all retail orders go through us. We have made arrangements with Murphy's Magic to handle all wholesale orders.

I agree with Richard's comments regarding the economics of publishing such books and the problems of price-slashing.

On the other hand, as I told Mark, it's a free marketplace and anyone can sell our books for what they wish!
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Postby Jim Riser » 10/21/02 01:34 PM

$200 for a set of books sounds like quite a bit of change. But I do like quality and these books will have the look and feel of quality. When the Albo books came out, I was unable to afford them (young children and working on Masters degree). They sounded expensive then; but now they are out of my reach. Alas, I'll never own the set - and in my line of work they would make excellent reference books. I'll not miss The Magic of Robert-Houdin - so I'll be ordering mine in November from Todd (I do not buy from chronic price cutters who in the long run hurt magic).
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Postby MaxNY » 10/22/02 06:13 AM

Please explain how chronic price cutters hurt magic...
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Postby Jim Riser » 10/22/02 09:37 AM

Originally posted by MaxNY:
Please explain how chronic price cutters hurt magic...
Max;
Please explain how they help magic by lowering the status of magic marketing to a Wal-Mart mentality. Believe me, you do not want to hear what I think of the chronic price cutters. I know how they hurt magic; but since you felt a need to ask, there is a good possibility you might not ever understand the concepts involved. It goes way beyond magicians wanting to get a bargain. It goes way beyond being magicians and dealers being cheap. It hits to the root of the sources of new and original magic. It affects the exclusivity of items. It affects the quality of items. These are all long term effects. There is a domino effect associated with chronic price cutting which will hurt the entire magic industry - over time. The fact that you had to even ask says quite a lot.

You have indicated in a post above that $200 is over your limit. Fine, do not buy the book. If one looks at quality and value here, though, it is obvious that these books are a bargain at half of what you want for a poster. Put into perspective the $200 sounds reasonable.

I will buy from Todd - the guy who made the effort and invested the small fortune to bring me a quality item. I will not order from the guy riding on his coat tails trying to make a quick buck; but doing no work and investing very little. The choice is yours. I prefer the high road.

I can tell you that you will be seeing less and less quality items being sold through dealers in the not so distant future. These dealers, all dealers, will bear the brunt of the chronic price cutters' policies. All that dealers will be able to purchase wholesale will be junk from India and the like. This will come as a direct result of chronic price cutters lessening the value of quality items. Agree with me or not. I do not care. What I have predicted above is already coming true.
Jim
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/22/02 09:50 AM

Originally posted by Todd Karr:
Just to clarify, The Miracle Factory is handling all distribution...all retail orders go through us. We have made arrangements with Murphy's Magic to handle all wholesale orders.
Now I'm really confused. If you are handing "all retail orders," how is it that Mark, and presumably anyone who purchases from Murphy's, is selling the books at the retail level?

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Postby Todd Karr » 10/22/02 10:53 AM

Dustin:
Sorry about the confusion. Individual purchasers not ordering through a dealer go through us.
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Postby Guest » 10/22/02 12:39 PM

Todd,

Wondering how many copies of this are being published? I read it was "limited", but can you give a better idea of "how limited". Not looking for exact figures, but "limited" can really be defined by any number.

Look forward to the set....Thanks!
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Postby Todd Karr » 10/22/02 12:47 PM

Michael: Only 800 are available for sale.
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Postby Kendrix » 10/22/02 01:55 PM

Jim Riser: You said a mouthful. I designed and had a custom surgical instrument produce for me a set of instruments. It took over 5 years and dozens of prototypes. The cost was close to $100,000.00. I showed them to a major manufacturer who said my prices for the designs were too high. In a little over 18 months these same instruments appeared in their catalogue. When I went to an attorney he said that it would cost another 150-200,000 dollars to try the case. So, I let it go.
But, the final result is that I will never again apply any effort to this type of endeavor again.
The patient (consumer) is the one that ultimately loses.
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Postby Terry » 10/23/02 05:00 AM

I can tell you that you will be seeing less and less quality items being sold through dealers in the not so distant future. These dealers, all dealers, will bear the brunt of the chronic price cutters' policies. All that dealers will be able to purchase wholesale will be junk from India and the like. This will come as a direct result of chronic price cutters lessening the value of quality items.
Jim, once a dealer buys the books wholesale from Todd, any price they set is their choice of profit. If the books cost $100 wholesale with retail at $200 the profit = $100. If the dealer sells them for $175, his profit is $75.

Once the sets have been purchased from the wholeseller, how would a reduction in price affect the producer other than they could not move as many units, at the inflated price, as the dealer?

The result of your scenerio is that "if we can continue to increase the price and get it from the consumer, then they will start to be conditioned to accept such increases later and pay what we want.
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Postby MaxNY » 10/23/02 06:04 AM

Walmart has been very successful, and in my neighborhood there are BMW's and Mercedes parked in their lots... I've got a great item from India.
---I must admit, I breezed over the fact that this is TWO books. I just recieved a magic publication today that had a picture, and yes, this appears to be a wonderful book.
---No question that quality of magic apparatus has declined, probably a result of yellow-dog contracts. There is quality out there for those who seek it.
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Postby Guest » 10/24/02 05:09 PM

Hi Todd, long time no hear.
Most likely will order this fantastic tome but I still need to get your previous two books (if there still available) as well. I am a big Robert Houdin fan and I don't think I can live without these volumes. I just have one question. The beautiful picture you are using in your ads. The double page shot with Houdin and all of his apparatus. Is that really him or is it a waxwork or display of some kind? The reason I ask is that if you look to the right of Mr. Houdin the "Cone of Abundance" and what I assume to be the "Light and Heavy Chest" are sitting on something that looks for all the world like a plexiglass display riser. This anachronistic anomally sticks out like a sore thumb tip so I was curious if it was photoshoped in or what?
Hopefully my check will be in the mail to you soon.
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Postby Todd Karr » 10/24/02 05:19 PM

Payne:
Yes, the ad photo is a photocomposition that Christian Fechner's team prepared.

The limited edition of Germain the Wizard is sold out but the regular edition is still available. Our previous book, The Silence of Chung Ling Soo, is totally sold out.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/24/02 10:35 PM

Payne, the first time I saw that panoramic image of Robert-Houdin standing on the stage of what appears to be his theater, surrounded by his props, I almost fainted. It appears in the new biography as a fold-out at the back of one of the books, and simply serves as the background for the diagram of Robert-Houdin's family tree.
I immediately thought that such a photo was too good to be true, and sure enough noticed that some of the props were sharper than others, noticely "The Pastry Cook at the Palais-Royal." Then I realized that the entire thing is a construct done in photoshop, but what an AMAZING construct. If Fechner made posters of this, I bet he could sell a lot! What a picture!
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Postby Guest » 10/24/02 10:48 PM

It is a gorgeous photo and if they had found a nice table to replace the plexiglass riser I probably never would have questioned it. It would make a nice poster but the increase in size would also make some of the subtle flaws more noticeable.
Still a great picture though.
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Postby Guest » 10/29/02 07:48 PM

Speaking of price cutting: If a publisher offers a special pre-publication price, say $65, instead of the set retail of $75, is he giving dealers their usual discount off of the pre-publication price, so that shops can compete? If not, wouldn't this be hurting the local shop's sales? maybe they do give the discount off the lower price. I don't know...I'm asking. Richard? Also, what about a company like L&L? They offer free shipping, great service and 10% off if you buy at least three items. Are they considered price cutters?
As far as these new Houdin books go, I can't wait...whatever the price!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/29/02 10:01 PM

It is a long-standing practice for a publisher to give a "pre-publication" price of a few dollars discount when payment is made months before the publication of an item.
Without retail sales, there is little hope of reaching profitability when publishing a book.
This is an entirely different matter than a retailer, such as L&L, giving a discount when you buy a certain amount of products or spend a certain amount of money.
And that is very different than some guy on the internet, who has no shop, no overhead of any kind, advertising a book (that's not his product) at $15 less than its retail price before the damn thing even comes out. THAT hurts the publisher directly, and THAT will cause fewer books to be published and the books that are published will have higher prices because of it.
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Postby Terry » 10/30/02 06:09 AM

And that is very different than some guy on the internet, who has no shop, no overhead of any kind, advertising a book (that's not his product) at $15 less than its retail price before the damn thing even comes out. THAT hurts the publisher directly, and THAT will cause fewer books to be published and the books that are published will have higher prices because of it.
Very wrong on this Richard.

Publisher (L&L in this case) sells copies of a book for $75.00.

Magic Shop buys 1 copy @ $50 (wholesale) and retails them for $60 (retail).

In this scenerio - L&L profits $25 over wholesale and Magic Shop profits $10.

The publisher received their value in the wholesale price and their involvement is ended. What price the magic shop sells for is THEIR profit and in NO way affects the publisher.

What the end seller sells an item for has zero affect on the publisher except that the publisher cannot get their inflated price..
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Postby MaxNY » 10/30/02 07:19 AM

If there is ONE person in magic who knows the publishing buisness it's you Richard... But, I just can't comprehend how an internet shop who marks a book $15 less than other shops, causes fewer books to be published. The middle-man of book selling has evolved into a very complicated business. I have witnessed book stores tearing covers from paperbacks, only to discard them... I guess a book can grow "stale" sitting on a shelf.
---If anything I see MORE people wanting this book if the price came down $50 dollars.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/30/02 09:08 AM

Terry, now you've really pissed me off. Here is what you wrote: "except that the publisher cannot get their inflated price.."
What inflated price? What the hell do you know about small-run textbook publishing? The printing of 300 to 2000 copies of a book? What do you know about the years of work that often go into producing a book so the writer, illustrator, and publisher can all get some measly fee for their work that's so small people in the "real" world can only shake their heads in disbelief that there's so little money involved.
I have NEVER been able to pay a single person, or myself, a reasonable amount for the work involved in any book project. Inflated price? You have NO idea what you're talking about!
And that uninformed attitude of yours has infected the magic world, which is why magicians will buy something from some discounting dealer instead of from the publisher if they can save $2. And this is where your other comment about there being no harm in dealers selling things for less than the retail price is also dead wrong: there is so little money to be made publishing a magic book, that the publishers DESPERATELY need their retail sales in order to make any money at all. When those retail sales are lost to people who discount, the publisher makes little or no money on the book. Does that make it clear?
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Postby Jim Riser » 10/30/02 10:24 AM

To those of you who just can not comprehend how this discounting hurts magic - Richard is right!

You who do not create, design, develop, experiment, invest thousands of dollars, invest your time - your life, organize all elements involved, and all the other little things necessary in bringing a new item (book, trick, apparatus) to market will never comprehend how discounting hurts magic. You types either want to save a couple dollars (you're cheap) or as "dealers" want to just make a few cheap and quick bucks off of someone else's labors and investments (you're a leech).

I will not waste time trying to explain what all is involved nor how/why this discounting hurts magic as such types as mentioned above will (I repeat) never be able to comprehend the concepts. Someone mentioned "inflated prices". The maker/producer of new items must earn a living or such valued magic goodies will cease to be created. You will, in the rather near future, see direct selling of magic products to the end consumer. The dealers will not have access to the "good stuff". In order for a provider to sell items at wholesale, compromises must be made. The items must be produced in much larger quantities with less attention to hand detailing. The price must be adjusted to be a realistic final selling price - not an "inflated price". The sacrifices are made at the manufacturing end. The provider must cut any small profits in order for the item to bear the final dealers' markup. In actuality, a better product can be had if it is purchased directly from the provider at a better price. There are no games played. The provider figures what is required in order to deliver a quality product and still make an acceptable profit. This "profit" needs to allow development costs for future items. It is not all profit! The final price will be less than any mere dealer could sell the same item for. IMHO the person who does all of the work in bringing new items to the market, should be the person earning the profit - not the leeches of magic.

Flame away; but know that you will not see any of my items being sold by the leeches.

Most of you commenting on this topic obviously do not know of which you write. Develop your own quality items, market them, and then see what you think. Until then, you are clueless.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/30/02 10:44 AM

Originally posted by Jim Riser:
You will, in the rather near future, see direct selling of magic products to the end consumer. The dealers will not have access to the "good stuff".
It's already happening. The new Carney book will not be available to dealers. Lorayne's last book wasn't until he sold them to L&L (and I'm guessing that he felt that he had exhausted his own market). Cummin's & Eason's Fusillade was the same; available only through them for the first year or so, then they released it to a couple dealers.

This form of marketing is the future of not just magic, but all niche markets.

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Postby Guest » 10/30/02 10:59 AM

Richard:

Perhaps you have inadvertantly contributed to the wrong-headed belief that magic book publishers are sitting back, firing up their cheroots with Ben Franklins, feet propped up atop bags o' cash from Magic Book sales.

Years of producing beautiful, oversized, carefully researched and clearly written books which set the standard of what a Magic book should be, end up biting you in the arse.

It's impossible for anyone who has not produced a quality written product to know the effort, time, and expense involved. My background is publishing -- our company's main product we give away for free -- each copy of which costs over a $1.35 to produce, and it's just a damn newspaper, with a shelf life of about a week.

The only answer is value pricing; why should a Kaufman, Minch, or other well-made product be priced at the same level as someone's crappy photocopied lecture notes -- poorly written, ill-conceived, and with about one valuable idea, if you're lucky?

As you said, it is a niche textbook industry, and other publishers in the same situation have let the value of the final product dictate the final price. Derek Dingle's Complete Works should not be about the same price as Paul Gordon's Protean Card Magic, it should probably cost twice as much, at least.

I've noticed that mentalists seem to understand this, with Banachek's Psychological Subleties going at about $40, and Becker's annotated reissue of Stunners for $150. They also seem to price and value their performing rates at a generally higher level than magicians as well.

It is in our nature to seek out bargains, but I agree it is incumbent upon those who claim a love of this art to support, in as direct a method as possible, the creators of quality.

--Randy Campbell
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Postby Kendrix » 10/30/02 01:18 PM

Richard: I am sure that if you added up the time spent it would be very close to minimum wage. It is truly a love of what you are doing. I have had members in my IBM ring ask me to photocopy books I have. When I tell them "no" they get angry. When I see the limited "runs" these books had I don't know how you do it even if you got 100% profit. The margin is so tight. Please remember there are lots of people who understand and respect the work you do.
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Postby John Bodine » 10/30/02 03:16 PM

Wow Richard, I'm amazed at how personal you took Terry's post. Regardless, Terry is correct, and so are you.

First, in the most basic sense of how resale/retail works, the manufacturer of an item sets the wholesale price that enable them to make money. After they sell to the resellers, it should make no difference what final price is charged. If in fact the manufacturer is setting the price too low, and relying on additional sales directly to the customer at the MSRP then it is an error on the manufacturers part in setting the low wholesale price.

With books, if you write a book and are only able to turn a profit by selling directly, then by all means that is what you should do. If you set your wholesale price such that you make money, the only affect discount dealers has on you or your product is perhaps altering the perception of the quality. For example, Apple Computers requires its resellers to sell above a certain price. Resellers are NOT allowed to discount below a certain price, as this will affect the perception of quality of the Apple product and brand.

I have only been purchasing magic books for the past few years, but have amassed quite a good collection during that time. My purchases have come from all sources, used, new from retail, new from publisher, and new and used from Internet, oh yeah, and eBay.

While I do believe magic books are generally priced too low, the true price of an item is set by the market. Basic economics determines the ability of a product to make money, and I for one certainly hope the publishers involved in our art are able to turn that profit.

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Postby Lance Pierce » 10/30/02 04:51 PM

I think we all understand that when a publisher in magic sells to a wholesaler at 60% of the cover price (or to a jobber at even less), this is less money than he'd make selling those copies directly at retail price. Spread over 2,000 copies or so, the difference can run into thousands of dollars. On the other hand, trying to sell all your copies directly involves so much more work and handling that it's possible one would see the bulk of the extra money being eaten up just in the additional cost of overhead and labor. This is in addition to the fact that many, many customers simply never buy anything direct -- they ALWAYS go through a local outlet or some personal connection. If you don't make your product available through those channels, you will NEVER get those customers.

The publisher, then, has to find the best medium, which is not always easy to do, given that even with the history of sales of magic products, we still can't predict with perfect surety how the next book will sell. The question is, how many does he try to sell retail, how many directly to wholesalers, and how many to jobbers? For the most part, there's probably a set ratio that a publisher can use time and time again, but there are times when a publisher can benefit greatly from adjusting that ratio...just how does he know when?

Most magic books aren't inflated in price given the market, I don't think. The reason I say this is because very few magic publishers are rolling in the dough. A couple of them seem to be barely squeaking by.

Personally, I'm grateful for Richard's presence in the magic world. I wrote him once and expressed my appreciation for the work he's done over the last couple of decades. Magic publishing -- and therefore magic books -- and therefore magic itself has been changed forever because of what he's given us.

And yet, if we had lunch, I bet I'd have to pick up the tab. :D

Cheers,

Lance
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