Your View: ebooks or printed books?

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/09/03 03:33 PM

Someone suggested that we do a poll to see who prefers ebooks to printed books or vice versa. Please make your choice and add commentary.
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Postby Alain Roy » 01/09/03 03:52 PM

I've read Chris Wasshuber's comments on ebooks. I know the arguments for them. I'm a computer geek, and I enjoy technology. However, I prefer reading a printed book.

It's likely that I have a hard time accepting change, and any reason I use to explain why I like it is merely a rationalization of my lack of flexibility. That said:

* I like the security in knowing that I can read a printed book without electricity or more technology. I see computers crash all the time. I see incompatibilities between programs, file, and operating systems. I have none of those worried when I read a printed book. (As long as it's printed in English.)

* I worry about continuing to read ebooks in the future, as the technology evolves. I don't want to have to transfer to new media. How many VHS VCRs read BETA format?

* I don't want to spend money on a decent ebook reader. Yes, I know that if I did, it might come out cheaper in the long run if I bought books from lybrary.com. But the incremental cost is higher at the moment of purchasing the ebook reader. And how long will the reader last? How long can I use it? I'm betting my books will last longer than a particular ebook reader.

* I enjoy reading physical books.

* I'm unsure how loaning works with ebooks. Can I loan ebooks? Digital rights management makes me nervous. It's nice to be able to loan someone my book without worrying about copyrights. (I'm not talking about copying the book, just borrowing it.) There might be answers for this question today, but I'm not sure how this is going to change in the near future.

I think the ideal for me would be that when I bought a book, I got the printed copy and an ebook on a CD inside the book. I could add the ebook to my ebook collection and do searches on multiple ebooks, but I could read the physical copy. I'm not sure if I would pay extra for this though, so it may be a losing proposition for a publisher.

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Postby Leonard Hevia » 01/09/03 04:55 PM

I totally agree with all of Alain's points on the disadvantages of ebooks. Ebooks can however be advantageous in some instances. I recently purchased The Phoenix on ebook, which allows me to enjoy it without having to go to the trouble of hunting back issues. The Sphinx will shortly be on ebook format and everyone interested in this piece of magic history will soon have the opportunity to view it. I think ebooks are great when printing a certain piece of literature is impractical. After all, if the Sphinx was reprinted on paper, how many shelves would it fill?
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Postby Scott » 01/09/03 06:20 PM

Can we please not have ANOTHER debate over these different formats for books? Hasn't this been beaten to death?
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Postby CHRIS » 01/09/03 07:22 PM

Originally posted by Alain Roy:
* I don't want to spend money on a decent ebook reader. Yes, I know that if I did, it might come out cheaper in the long run if I bought books from lybrary.com. But the incremental cost is higher at the moment of purchasing the ebook reader. And how long will the reader last? How long can I use it? I'm betting my books will last longer than a particular ebook reader.
For Lybrary.com ebooks you do not nead any special reader. Your computer (desktop or laptop which you already have) with a webbrowser is all you need.

Originally posted by Alain Roy:
* I think the ideal for me would be that when I bought a book, I got the printed copy and an ebook on a CD inside the book. I could add the ebook to my ebook collection and do searches on multiple ebooks, but I could read the physical copy. I'm not sure if I would pay extra for this though, so it may be a losing proposition for a publisher.
You could alternatively print out ebooks. The quality would not be the same as a good book, but these days even a simple desktop printer with a utility program such as ClickBook and perfect binding produces very nice results. Much better than these wire or coil bound notes.

I won't go into the details of pro and con of ebooks versus books. I have posted about it several times and anybody interested can read an essay about it on my website or the short form of it under "Why Ebooks".

However, I would like to focus on one facet of this issue. Ebooks are _different_ and provide a different set of advantages and disadvantages. They allow one to do things impossible with books (for example searching). They also lack some features we all have learned to love in books (for example touch and feel).

So I see it more a side by side rather than ebook against book. Each one of us has to decide what is more important. Do I want to be able to search through my library or is the touch and fell and smell of my books more important to me. Do I rather want to read them in my favorite chair or do I prefer to take my library on a disc on my next trip. If money is no issue, one will get both formats to have all advantages. If money is an issue, and for most it is, one has to decide. There is no right or wrong in general.

For me personally searching is a killer application which overshadows everything. I accept the disadvantages of ebooks for the huge benefit of searchability and several other side benefits such as shelf space a.s.o. For me, the thought of having a several hundred volumes strong magic library that I can fully text search is almost beyond believe. That is my goal and I am a good step closer to it.

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Postby George Olson » 01/09/03 07:23 PM

Amen, Scott :rolleyes:
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Postby CHRIS » 01/09/03 07:24 PM

Originally posted by Leonard Hevia:
After all, if the Sphinx was reprinted on paper, how many shelves would it fill?
About 6 feet!

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Postby CHRIS » 01/09/03 07:30 PM

I think an even more interesting question would be "What if certain material is ONLY available as ebook - would you buy such ebook, although you prefer books?

Meaning, is the contents more important than the form it comes in?

So far most magic ebooks published have been re-publications of old material. I wonder what would happen if some authors would entirely switch to the electronic format

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Postby Pete McCabe » 01/09/03 07:32 PM

Scott:

No offense, but we are very, very early in the debate over books vs. ebooks for magic, much less in general. Plenty of other topics if this one bores you.

In particular this debate will continue to evolve as the technology does. It won't be too long before you can get an ebook reader that looks like a book, feels almost like a book, and even has multiple pages so you can compare two pages -- from the same or different books -- side by side. You'll be able to carry this around in your pocket or briefcase (it will fold up) and load it up with different books on flash memory cards as you go -- no computer required.

From there it's just a short step to an iPod holding your entire magic library.

I for one can't wait, not only so that I can more easily access the books that have already been written, but to see what new types of magic instruction can be created to take advantage of this new technology.
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Postby Alain Roy » 01/09/03 07:51 PM

Hi Chris:

I did mention that I head heard your arguments, right? :)

You said: "For Lybrary.com ebooks you do not nead any special reader. Your computer (desktop or laptop which you already have) with a webbrowser is all you need."

Fair enough. But my computer is not always with me, nor do I choose to bring it with me everywhere: it's heavy. I like to bring books with me to more places than I bring my computer. I don't want my computer to constain what I can read and when I can read it. I could get a smaller ebook reader that would let me move around. See my comments above about buying a read.

You wrote: "You could alternatively print out ebooks. The quality would not be the same as a good book, but these days even a simple desktop printer with a utility program such as ClickBook and perfect binding produces very nice results. Much better than these wire or coil bound notes."

Yes, I can print out ebooks, you are correct. At least on my inkjet printer, it would get expensive quickly--those things churn through ink cartridges, and the quality is often quite bad. I don't know if ink jet printers are always bad, but pages often feed through crooked, I get lines in the text, etc... Yes, I could solve these problems. But it's another expense, and one I'm not excited about.

You wrote: "However, I would like to focus on one facet of this issue. Ebooks are _different_ and provide a different set of advantages and disadvantages. They allow one to do things impossible with books (for example searching). They also lack some features we all have learned to love in books (for example touch and feel)."

You are absolutely correct. I often wish that I could do a "find" in my physical books, particularly books without good indexes. Ebooks do present advantages that books don't have. For me, the advantages don't yet overcome the disadvantages that I described above.

I am concerned about the long-term instability of ebook technology. Changing formats and storage media worries me. I am worried about digital rights management and what it prevents me from doing that is legal. I am not just thinking about magic ebooks, but any kind of ebook. (Not the original question said nothing about magic.)

Ebooks have some compelling advantages. When the technology has settled and improved, I may become more interested. I used to be an "early adopter", but I no longer am.

-alain
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/09/03 08:07 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Please make your choice and add commentary.
The ability to search via computer is attractive. On the other hand well written content is just awkward to read on computer. Trying to read Poe or Swift off a monitor gives me eyestrain. Likewise Some of us read in all rooms of the house. My vote would be to have both options avialable. Some books are special to me and others useful for reference.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 01/09/03 08:23 PM

Although I prefer printed books to ebooks, that doesn't mean I don't like ebooks. It's kind of like saying which do you prefer, cars or motorcycles? I PREFER cars for a number of reasons, but I like motorcycles too.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/09/03 08:42 PM

I found the ability to search for every instance of Dai Vernon's name in Geno Munari's new ebook of "The Jinx" extremely handy. That's a positive thing.
I have a full file of The Sphinx, which I have read and reread, yet there's no question that I've missed many thousands of things. The ability to search on someone's name is invaluable. Then, having found those pertinent articles, they alone could be printed and carried conveniently to be read.
I think the idea of reading this kind of stuff off the screen is for the birds.
Frankly, it would seem that the best answer would be to have both the original printed material AND the ebook.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/09/03 08:43 PM

And with 26 votes so far, we have 92% for printed books and 8% for ebooks.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/09/03 09:49 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
And with 26 votes so far, we have 92% for printed books and 8% for ebooks.
Did anyone tell Chris that he could vote only once?

:D
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Postby CHRIS » 01/09/03 11:04 PM

Dustin, that was a good one.

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Postby CHRIS » 01/09/03 11:16 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
I found the ability to search for every instance of Dai Vernon's name in Geno Munari's new ebook of "The Jinx" extremely handy. That's a positive thing.
And now imagine you can search for every instance of Dai Vernon not just in The Jinx but in 100x or 1000x more publications. That is when it becomes extremely powerful.

I have done many searches through my set of 130+ ebooks. For example I searched for things like "coin ladder" or "ball vase" or "bullet catch". When you do that you find out how bad your memory is. I thought I had a pretty good one and also thought I read carefully, but such searches taught me that the human brain is just not made for keeping all these details stored. Searching allows me to find all those hidden gems.

Who was it who said that in order to hide something it is best one publishes it. Well, with searching we are going to disprove this statement.

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Postby Guest » 01/10/03 05:53 AM

Both Alain and Chris make good points.

If certain material were only available as an ebook then I would yield to purchasing it. But, out of choice, I prefer printed books as one has never crashed on me yet ;)
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Postby mrgoat » 01/10/03 06:18 AM

There is no argument.

Chris seems to be the only one really in favour of them.

The discussion is circular.

The statistics speak for themselves.

We all prefer dead trees.

Except for useful searching - which one will be able to do for free with the Genii Online Database project. How is that going?
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Postby Guest » 01/10/03 06:48 AM

Originally posted by mrgoat:

Except for useful searching - which one will be able to do for free with the Genii Online Database project. How is that going?
Slowly. Users like to use the search facility for free, but only a handful have actually contributed to its construction.

To those who have given their time I'm grateful on behalf of myself and the other contributors. To those that haven't: may your TTs fall off and your doves fly away ;)
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Postby Bob Coyne » 01/10/03 07:02 AM

I agree that searching is a key advantage of ebooks (just as search engines like google make the web so much more useful and powerful than it would be otherwise). And I agree that the current limitations/drawbacks of display technology are a major impediment to its widespread adoption.

Looking further into the future, I think the chunking of information into something we call a book (digital or otherwise) is also suspect. When searching for a trick by an author, I want to search all ebooks, not just the ones I might happen to own. And I would want to access/purchase individual entries (tricks, chapters, etc), not whole books. Why should someone have to buy a whole book when all the data is in digital form? A key advantage of digital information is the flexibility in which it can be delivered and packaged. This advantage should be exploited with some sort of trusted, easy-to-use microbilling system accessible from the search results.

I'd note that this same argument applies to digitized music. Napster showed how strong the appetite is for getting music at a different, lower level of granularity - searching/downloading on individual songs and artists rather than whole albums.
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Postby John LeBlanc » 01/10/03 07:57 AM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Someone suggested that we do a poll to see who prefers ebooks to printed books or vice versa. Please make your choice and add commentary.
Well, I chose printed books, but only because the poll didn't allow for the choice I prefer: both.

I'd like to see books come out with a ebook added option -- added value. I'm guessing the reason they don't currently is because of the expected piracy involved.

I spend an awful amount of time on the road. I always put a box or two of books in the car with me. Having the option of purchasing an ebook added to a printed book order would be perfect for me; I could carry along a good sized library anywhere I go and leave room in my trunk for more important things. Like more books. <g>

If given the choice between one or the other, I'd take printed books over ebooks. I am adicted to the tactility of books.

I also and especially love the smell of a book (new books have lost some of the magic of old books in this respect.)

The benefits of an ebook (and they are significant) do not, in my opinion, outweigh the benefits of a printed book.

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Postby Guest » 01/10/03 08:05 AM

Originally posted by John W. LeBlanc:
Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
[b]Someone suggested that we do a poll to see who prefers ebooks to printed books or vice versa. Please make your choice and add commentary.
Well, I chose printed books, but only because the poll didn't allow for the choice I prefer: both.

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Houston, TX[/b]
Mmm.... so prefer means? :D
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Postby JR Russell » 01/10/03 08:25 AM

To quote from the ol' Miller Beer commercials...
I feel strongly both ways :D
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Postby CHRIS » 01/10/03 10:15 AM

Originally posted by mrgoat:
Chris seems to be the only one really in favour of them....The statistics speak for themselves...We all prefer dead trees.
If I look at the ebook orders that are coming in right now and have so over the past three years, the poll does not reflect reality. I think the sample is way too low to draw any meaningful conclusions from it (particularly a 'we all ...'). Trend is pointing clearly upwards.

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Postby CHRIS » 01/10/03 10:22 AM

Originally posted by Bob Coyne:
Looking further into the future, I think the chunking of information into something we call a book (digital or otherwise) is also suspect. When searching for a trick by an author, I want to search all ebooks, not just the ones I might happen to own. And I would want to access/purchase individual entries (tricks, chapters, etc), not whole books. Why should someone have to buy a whole book when all the data is in digital form? A key advantage of digital information is the flexibility in which it can be delivered and packaged. This advantage should be exploited with some sort of trusted, easy-to-use microbilling system accessible from the search results.
Bob, very good point. It will happen, and already happens to some degree. However, the problem is again a problem of 'human change'. We are so used to buying chunks in form of books, that very few, you are an exception, will be quick to accept such flexible chuncking.

Just look how much resistance digital media has to overcome. Add a micropayment scheme and most will throw the towel.

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Postby Scott » 01/10/03 10:59 AM

Part of why this poll reflects such a bias towards books is the age/experience level of people on this board. Put this same poll on a board populated with kids 18 and under (approximately), and I bet you'd see the exactly opposite of this because they are so into technology and don't care about having a book to touch. Give an ebook to someone who already knows how things work and it's just something else to look at. Give it to someone who doesn't know the moves, and can read something, click on a button and get a clip of what it's supposed to look like, and they are all over that.

I bought an effect from a well know magician about 2 months ago. I saw him perform it and really liked it. It seemed simple enough when I watched him perform it. I got it home, tried to follow the directions and couldn't. In this case, if it were in e-format, (I know it's directions, not a whole book), but my point is the same. A quick reference in video format would have allowed me to get past the poorly written directions. Could I have figured it out without it? Yes, and I eventually did after about an hour of trying every possible variation of the written words. Did I learn anything in that hour. No. In fact, if only made me mad that I had bought something that wasn't "performable" from the directions included, unless you lucked out and set it up right from the beginning.

I think it has far more to do with age and experience level than it does with anything else.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 01/10/03 01:02 PM

I just read a chapter of John Cornelius' new book while sitting in the smallest room of my house (the one with the porcelain seat). It was the right amount of reading for the activity in question, and when I was done, I put the book back on the shelf. I can't do that with an e-book.

On the other hand, I spend more time on the computer each day than I do reading books. So maybe I'm not as in love with paper as I believed.
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Postby Lance Pierce » 01/10/03 11:47 PM

Oh, jeez, Bill, thanks for the visual. I may not ever be able to write a book again.

::shudders::

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Postby Dave Egleston » 01/11/03 01:52 PM

I tried to stay out of this argument this time - But, as I've read the postings by some very smart people, I just have to add my thoughts once again - As I stated on a previous thread - I was the first "on the block" to own an overpriced ebook reader - I owned it for exactly 8 days before I sent it back - I absolutely hated it. Thank goodness Barnes and Noble had the money back guarantee.

I can see the advantages of ebooks, as outlined by Mr McCabe and actually can't wait for ebooks/ebook readers to become user friendly.

Recently I tried to load a reader into my Palm Pilot - It's just this side of friggin' impossible
I may be the least intelligent forum member, but for crying out loud - there's got to be a way to access this ebook technology - and using my computer is not an option for reading - Kind of defeats the main purpose (in my opinion) of ebooks,portability.

When the ebook reader, Mr McCabe described is in production - I'll once again be first in line.

As stated by another person stated - I'll probably use ebooks along with real books - How handy would it be to pull up "Burling Hull" and have his offerings outlined and see exactly where to go to see his tricks and articles? Cool stuff

That is why I'm participating in the Genii index - I have to apologize to Mr Kaufman and Mr Nichols for poor output these last two weeks - Football playoffs - (Not soccer Mr. Nichols) - But I'll put in another year sometime this week

Rambling on

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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 01/11/03 02:24 PM

Once someone personally decides (for whatever reasons) on a format (books, Mac computer..), any issue, question, debate, or argument is mooted and muted.

I have 9000 books in my house. I check out 15-20 books from the library weekly. I'm a bibliobulimiac.

However...

I also love databases and hyper-text, as well. I celebrate what Chris, Geno, and Martin (Breese) are doing.

The unfortunate downside is when technology leaves us with tons of obsolete hardware and software. The current surge in DVD will leave us with much VHS stuff that we are forced to save, hoping that our back-up VCR's are replaceable or can be repaired. Then we must figure out ways to convert all the data, if we have the will and money and time to do so...

I still have a homebased-telephone. But soon it will be jettisoned. The cell-phone, despite our love-hate relationship to it, will rule.

As for the issue or argument now in question, the fun has yet to begin. We are only in the preliminary stages. Tack on the "intellectual property" debate and it's enough to make you grab an stack of books and run for the strip-mined hills.

If it doesn't interest you, scroll past it and hug your books.

Onward...
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Postby Guest » 01/11/03 02:33 PM

Originally posted by Dave Egleston:


That is why I'm participating in the Genii index - I have to apologize to Mr Kaufman and Mr Nichols for poor output these last two weeks - Football playoffs - (Not soccer Mr. Nichols) - But I'll put in another year sometime this week

Ranmbling on

Dave
Ah yes, US Football. That's the one which is called Football, but in fact the ball is rarely kicked right? Mmmmm ..... I'll have to think about that one. I'm still trying to get my noggin' around baseball which has a world series, but in fact no other countries participate. :D
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Postby Dave Egleston » 01/11/03 04:09 PM

I'm still trying to get my noggin' around baseball which has a world series, but in fact no other countries participate.
No other country can compete

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Postby Guest » 01/12/03 09:26 AM


-------------------------------
I'm still trying to get my noggin' around baseball which has a world series, but in fact no other countries participate.
--Graham Nichols
-----------------------------------

No other country can compete

--Dave

What's Canada, chopped liver?

--Randy Campbell
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Postby Dave Egleston » 01/12/03 10:10 AM

Normally - In baseball - If Bud Selig has his way - We'll have 10 teams left by the time he's finished (good point though, Randy)

Got to add - I think I'm going to put another year of Genii on the Index today

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Postby Guest » 01/12/03 10:24 AM

Yes, good point Randy. I should have used the word continent rather than country. But then, what I know about baseball ain't worth knowing.

Dry your eyes Canadian buddies, as you're never far from our hearts. :)
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Postby mop krayz » 01/17/03 03:51 AM

No one seems to have mentioned the best utilisation of ebooks today: lecture notes in full colour instead of spring binded b&w affairs, club magazines with as-much-pages-as-you-like with no printing costs, young people who have a new effect on hand but cannot afford to market it as video...
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Postby CHRIS » 01/17/03 12:55 PM

Mop,

I think you are very right. Ebook is the only format you can get text, illustrations, photos, and video clips merged together. That's why the Card College ebook gets such a good reception.

Production and distribution costs are clearly lower for ebooks, as you mentioned. Take for example a guy in Australia. Sending a book costs you somewhere around $20. Sending a CD which is smaller and lighter costs you about $8. But if he downloads the ebook he doesn't have any shipping cost at all (yeah beside the his fractional cost of being online and a computer - for the nitpickers).

Ultimately the lower manufacturing and distribution cost will be the reason why books will be overtaken by ebooks. Books will always exist. I can still get a horse and put a cart behind it. But it is not the usual choice of transportation for most today.

Same will happen with ebooks and books. The majority of reading material will be in electronic form. And then there will be a smaller number of books published due to various reasons (design, art, nostalgia, bone-headed-ness, ...)

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Postby mop krayz » 01/22/03 03:47 AM

How about out of print books on Cd-ROM?
Houdini.com has just released the "Slydini Encores" book in CD format. Maybe others will follow.
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Postby CHRIS » 01/22/03 09:10 AM

Mop,

are you kidding? I have published several dozen 'out of print' books in electronic form for the last 3 years and I will continue along these lines. Here is a short list of a few great books I republished:

"Physical Amusements and Diverting Experiments" Pinetti
"Hofzinser's Card Conjuring" Sharpe translation
"Magicians Tricks" Hatton and Plate
"Modern More Later Latest Magic" Hoffmann
"Magician Annuals" Goldston
...

I will soon follow with:
"New Era Card Tricks" Roterberg
"The Sphinx"

A little bit farther out is:
"Hugard's Magic Monthly"
"Modus Operandi" Jon Racherbaumer (if we can assemble a complete file ;) )

and much much more

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