Best “Book Test”…

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Postby Kabuki San » 01/25/09 06:09 PM

Hello. I am from Japan and I am curious as to what is considered some of the Best Book Tests in the U.S.? Is any one familiar with The Samurai Book Test? I use this one and my audiences, including I enjoy it very much. You could leave this book on a coffee table and it may not be mistaken for more than a book. Thank you.
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Postby Kabuki San » 01/25/09 06:24 PM

Thank you,
Kabuki San
Thank you,
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Postby Spellbinder » 01/25/09 09:53 PM

In my opinion, the "best" book tests are ones that use ordinary books and do not require any special book at all. I designed my "Better Book Test" (from The Wizards' Journal #6 on my site) to use in library shows. This was before I was "retired by life" back in 1999 when Harry Potter was just picking up steam. I would ask the librarian if she had THE Harry Potter book (knowing full well that it was there because I could see it on display) and ask her if one of the children could get it and bring it up for a little demonstration using a magic mirror to tell the future.

I used it as a Wizard style effect, but it works just like any other book test for a magician, mentalist, fortune teller or wizard and it can be used with any book at all, even children's books.
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Postby Kabuki San » 01/26/09 04:31 AM

Thank you Sir., I am just curious. This book test you speak of sounds very cleaver and is much cheaper than $300.00 Samurai Book Test, I am sure, that is rare and most collectable including beautiful.
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Postby Tony Razzano » 01/26/09 11:57 AM

There are 3 that I use.

The Mother of All Book Tests, The Shakespeare Experiment and, at corporate events, Banachek's.
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Postby Dick Christian » 01/26/09 03:50 PM

Asking what is the "best" book test is akin to asking what is the best 4 ace trick. The answer depends almost entirely on a combination of factors including, among others, not only one's personal preferences but the situation (e.g., audience, veue, etc. in which it is to be presented) and with as many as 2,500 or more to choose from (I have approximately 1,000 in my personal collection) there is no shortage of options. I would certainly consider the three that Tony Razzano has identified as among the best of those using specially printed books. Others I would include in that category at Josh Zandman's "A Christmas Carol" (available through Black's Magic Group) and the original flashback books by Larry Becker (while others will disagree, I consider them better -- albeit less versatile -- than either Ultimate Flashback or Final Flashback). All of those, with the possible exception of The Shakespeare Experiment, will withstand the closest scrutiny and can safely be left in the hands of an audience member for an extended period.

If -- like many mentalists -- you prefer to use ordinary books that are ungimmicked in any way you will find many methods for doing so in the literature. One of the best, and best known, is David Hoy's Bold Book Test (commonly referred to as the Hoy Book Test). Others in that category include two that share the name AAA (any book, any place, any time) Book Test (one by Michael Sibbernsen, the other by the UK's Marc Paul).

The fact that all of these are in English may or may not present a problem for you. While there may be others, the Samurai Book Test is the only one I am familiar with that is printed in both English and Japanese. However, there are several "wordless" book tests that use books containing only images (or mostly images with limited text) which are not limited to a specific language.

Feel free to PM me at gr8magik@aol.com if you need additional information or sources for any of those mentioned.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/26/09 04:38 PM

Thanks Dick,

If folks have specific needs as regards the props or venue might you be able to point them to specific product or reference?

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Postby Tony Razzano » 01/26/09 05:17 PM

Dick's points are well taken. The 3 that I listed work best for me. Your style and persona may differ, so you need to investigate a bit more before you purchase.
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Postby Dick Christian » 01/27/09 07:12 AM

Jon,

In response to your query, I am happy to provide such information (appropriate to their level of experience) as I can to those able to substantiate a legitimate "need to know." It should be understood that any suggestions or recommendations I offer necessarily reflect my personal opinion (based on both my research on the genre and 15+ years of professional performances in which a book test routine is prominently featured) and that others may disagree.
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Postby Sardonicus » 02/22/09 10:49 PM

Greetings;
I am new to these forums, but this question is one I am compelled to comment on. I have spent a lifetime busking in streets, bars, and, other venues.
After my tour in Viet Nam, I was offered a temporary position in Japan. I learned to busk in the streets, and railroad stations, and met many other street magicians. While performing in Tachikawa, I met an 80 year old man I came to know as O'sensi Yamaguchi, as my 3 month temporary duty became 6, O'sensi became my mentor.
O'sensi had grown up as a circus performer, and was quite famous before the war. War changes all, after the war he had nothing but his skill, and a family to support, so he took to busking. I introduced O'sensi to the book test, he liked the effect, but felt it fell short, and O'sensi never learned to read, the class system he was born into did not permit it.
A few weeks later this the "book test" O'sensi performed. 3 spectators are chosen, they are presented with 3 newspapers from today, the choose one, and one spectator is instructed to choose a page not the first, and to fold the paper repeatedly to a small size. O'sensi dresses in traditional garb with sword, assistant and 2 spectators mount watermelons on poles on either side of spectator holding folded newspaper in front of their face. O'sensi patters along time about the family sword, and its being the spirit of his family, very Japanese, when the crowd is nodding, O'sensi would split the 2 watermelons, with down strokes, and Pierce the newspaper with a stab. Then he would have the sword tell him what the sword saw, on the other side of the paper, much longer, and dramatic than described, later he even worked in a method of performing the effect with a blindfold on.
Which book test is the best?, the one you can perform and connect to your audience with, any effect can create a "wow moment", or "that's so cool", mentalism, is part Psychological, sociological, and cultural, the effect you perform should be a journey for both you and the spectators, you are no longer performing an effect, but just steering the roller coaster. The audience hoping you succeed in your attempt, as you are connected with them, and they with you on the ride.
A funny joke is "good" when you hear it, a funny joke is "great" when you are in on it.
Forgive my being a little long winded, and thank you for your perseverance.

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Postby Dick Christian » 02/23/09 09:47 AM

Well that certainly beats the hell out of any book test (or newspaper test) I am familiar with. The only thing I've personally seen that comes close -- and differs from what I'm defining as a "book test" for citation in the book I'm working on -- would have to be Tim Conover's effect in which he repeatedly tears an umgimmicked page from a newspaper in two, keeps the half designated by a spectator (no force) and tears that half again, repeating the process until only a single scrap of paper (1/32 of the original page) remains and reveals his accurate (typed) prediction of the single word on that piece of paper chosen at random by the spectator. No stooges, no gimmicks, no forces, no switches -- just Tim, a spectator and a newspaper. A masterful and mindboggling piece of theater.
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Postby The Magic Apple » 02/23/09 06:56 PM

for the money, Mark Mason's Word in a Million is not only the best, but one of the cleanest, ANY BOOK..ANY WORD. No questions asked

A TOP seller all over the globe (even in the Disneyland magic shop in California!)
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Postby Paul Q » 02/24/09 12:57 AM

I bought it at Disneyland... I love it!
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Postby Dick Christian » 02/24/09 07:52 AM

If Mark Mason's "Word In A Million" is the same as the effect of the same name by Nicholas Einhorn and marketed in 2004 by J.B. Magic (without revealing the details, it is for use with a hardcover book with a dust jacket) I'll agree that it is clever and inexpensive, albeit neither new nor original, but "the best?" Not even close!

If it is something entirely different, I'd like to know about it -- and who is selling it (other than Disney).
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Postby Bob Farmer » 02/24/09 06:56 PM

Here are three book tests that cost nothing to make and are incredibly impressive:

Al Koran's "A Word In Thousands" Tarbell, Vol. 6, pp. 247-250.

Telepathic Pictures, Tarbell, Vol. 4, pp. 216-219.

500 Unlimited, Magic For The Millions by Greer Marechal, pp. 297-301.

I've used the Koran effect and the 500 Unlimited effect separately, but on looking at them again, I think you could combine the two methods and have a killer trick.

The effect would be an experiment using the left side of one spectator's brain (so he would write down the word he is thinking of) and the right side of a second spectator's brain (so he would write down nothing, but simply visualize the image of the word).
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Postby Pete McCabe » 02/24/09 07:39 PM

Billy Goodwin, Magic Castle librarian, fried me with a book test by David Hoy. It's not for professional performances; it basically only works for one person. But you can walk into someone's house and do it for them with no preparation whatsoever, using their books, and nothing else required. I won't even tell you where it is, but it's absolutely worth finding for when the time is right.
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Postby Dick Christian » 02/25/09 06:26 AM

IMO any book test vying for the title "best" must use only genuine ungimmicked books that can be freely handled and examined by participating spectators -- including reading from cover to cover should they wish -- and involve little or no handling of the book by the performer. There are a surprising number that meet those criteria. A few of them include: David Hoy's "Bold Book Test" (the one that fried Pete McCabe), Marc Paul's "AAA Book Test" and Josh Zandman's "IBT" (Impromptu Book Test) which is essentially a two-phase adaptation of Hoy's -- there are others as well. There are dozens of others that employ gaffed books that will still meet all the criteria I've cited with the single exception of being ungimmicked. Given the number of such options available, why anyone would prefer to use books that will not stand up under scrutiny is beyond me.

BTW, Hoy's test can be used with an audience of any size -- I do it all the time. The only difference in a stage or platform presentation is that the performer usually provides the (genuine ungimmicked) book(s). Take me into any book store, pick any book and I'll do it.
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Postby Charles Karelis » 03/28/09 05:14 PM

I think the best book test is Val Andrews book test. Use any book, very mysterious, easy to do.
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Postby brandes » 03/29/09 09:26 AM

maybe you can find article about "book-test" at here where overthere also you will found some of mentalist trick that updated weekly
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Postby Dick Christian » 03/29/09 11:21 AM

Charles,

With all due respect and no intent to precipitate an argument, best is, at best, a highly subjective term. Certainly what is best for one performer might be the antithesis of what another would identify as such. The fact that, based on my more than six years of researching the genre, I estimate that at least 2,500 book tests have been published in the English language in the past 100 or so years each of which has been proclaimed by its originator and heralded by its enthusiasts as the best is ample proof of my statement.

Having said that I agree that Val Andrews Amazing Unfaked Book Test can properly be listed among the better ones of the past dozen or so years. Among the features that commend it are the fact that virtually any book can be used, the book itself is unprepared and so will withstand the closest scrutiny, and the performer need not handle the book at all during the presentation. IMO however, those advantages are offset by the fact that the performer must have access to the book for a period of time prior to the performance, the selection of page and line (and, if more than one book is to be used, the book itself) must be forced albeit a ranging force that gives the impression of a free choice and that some performers may find the memorization required too difficult. While those factors may be of little significance in a stage performance, they make the Andrews test impractical for impromptu use.

Since there is no dearth of book tests that offer the same salient advantage (i.e., the use of any ungimmicked book) plus the additional benefits of allowing the use of multiple books, no force of book, page or line, being equally suitable for stage or impromptu presentation and with the only but IMO insignificant negative issue that the performer must handle the book very briefly to riffle the pages until the participating spectator says stop, the Andrews test, while certainly good, IMO hardly merits the accolade best.

I've noted some of those that IMO come closer to the ideal than Andrews' in my post of Feb. 25
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Postby Dale Shrimpton » 03/30/09 10:52 AM

ive always had a good reaction with Meyr yedid's , w.o.w book test.
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Postby Dick Christian » 03/30/09 04:58 PM

Dale Shrimpton wrote:ive always had a good reaction with Meyr yedid's , w.o.w book test.


There is no doubt that the W.O.W. book tests -- BTW there are five different editions, each using 2 hardcover books -- do enjoy something of a following and can be used to good effect. The drawbacks, both of which can be avoided with other tests, are: 1) the requirement to know the page number and 2) leaving the book in the hands of an audience member any longer than necessary risks exposing the secret.
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Postby Dale Shrimpton » 03/31/09 05:12 PM

Dick Christian wrote:
Dale Shrimpton wrote:ive always had a good reaction with Meyr yedid's , w.o.w book test.


There is no doubt that the W.O.W. book tests -- BTW there are five different editions, each using 2 hardcover books -- do enjoy something of a following and can be used to good effect. The drawbacks, both of which can be avoided with other tests, are: 1) the requirement to know the page number and 2) leaving the book in the hands of an audience member any longer than necessary risks exposing the secret.



you have a point.i have to admit i have only ever had one person try to catch me out with the books. a few years ago, id done teh test a couple of times, when a woman said " could you do that with any books?" Without thinking i said.. "Yes, if someone has a book".( it was a christmas social at a local yacht club so i assumed nobody had books)
quick as a flash, she reached into her bag, and produced a wrapped gift,which she opened and thrust at me..."Go on then!"

It was a book on poetry, each poem sitting beside a photograph, that reflected the mood of the poem.

i shoved my finger in the book, randomly, taking a peek at the page number.
i then asked the woman to give me a number.
IT WAS ONE OF THOSE " YES!!!!!!!"Moments, because, shed actually given me the number id randomly chosen.
i opened it up, and looked briefly at the picture, as i asked them to look at the page they had chosen.
i shut it, and handed it to her.
she opened it.. and i described what i felt teh poem was about.... she was dumbfounded.
and i started to wonder about supreme beings being real!
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Postby Lemniscate » 03/31/09 05:30 PM

Best is highly subjective. Even something more objective as "most useful" can be subjective as well. However, I'll offer my limited feedback on what I have found to be the "most useful" booktests.

First, "most useful" is defined, BY ME, as:
used the most often, generally due to ability to do in a wide range of locations with little to no set-up.

It should be obvious that I (currently) don't have a "book test" in my stage show but, to be 100% honest, I haven't done a stage show in around 18 months. Been doing strolling magic at parties instead (that's what the demand has been and I actually like it a bit better, so I don't know if I'll really try to get back to doing larger shows). In any case moving on.

A book test is interesting in that it can offer a pretty good indication of a performer (at least I think so). Divining and spouting off a word in a book test tells you a lot about a performer, especially in contrast with Sardonicus' mentor, O'sensi Yamaguchi. I feel that the lead-up, the story, the revelation of the word is what is important.

With that being said, if I run into a possible client at a party who has not seen me perform, I have them grab a few books and move into either the Hoy or Richard Busch's book test ("Paper backed Thought Projection" or something like that). More often than not, I do the Hoy version unless there is only one book around, then I prefer Busch's to other one book versions I've seen. Sometimes I will combine them.

I use several ploys in building up the suspense and revealing the word (for example, the letter by letter divination from Banachek).

Now, I've been known to be a book test collector, and I have a few (nowhere near Dick Christian though) but I get the most use out of those two.

In the situations as I have identified them.

For me.

I obviously think they are versatile and as deceptive as they need to be. However, and I am just throwing this out, I think comments like Pete's "It's not for professional performances; it basically only works for one person" miss the entire points of book tests. It's not about books, it's not about testing or test conditions, although those are both used. It's about revealing a thought. People do it from stage all the time, I can't possibly understand why one would say that about the Hoy version (with all due respect, btw, no attack, just utter bewilderment).

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Postby Dick Christian » 04/01/09 10:32 AM

Lem has hit the nail right on the head. "Most useful" is a much more apt criterion than "best." That's why my personal preference is for tests that lend themselves to truly impromptu presentation -- i.e., done anywhere, anytime, and with any book.

In addition to those Lem referred to -- Hoy's "Bold Book Test" and the one in Richard Busch's "Peek Performances" -- others that come immediately to mind and that I mentioned in one of my earlier posts are Marc Paul's "AAA Book Test" (which has the same name and uses the same method as one by Michael Sibbernsen that predates Marc Paul's by several years, but Sibbernsens had very limited publication and so is not nearly as well known) and Josh Zandman's "IBT" (Impromptu Book Test). David Bui released a similar, but IMO less reliable, test titled A.W.A.P. (any word, any page) in 2007 and there are other similar ones as well. The nice thing about Zandman's IBT adaptation of the Hoy test is that it allows for the effect to be instantly repeated using the second book and a second spectator (those familiar with the Hoy test will know what I'm talking about). Any of those tests will be equally effective in either a one-on-one situation or for a large audience and, properly presented, will defy logical explanation.

Take me into any book store, hand me any book and I'll do it.

The fact that such tests are the ones I prefer, is not to say that I have any qualms about using gimmicked books -- as long as they will stand up to close scrutiny. The book test routine in my show may involve as many as ten different books and as many as twelve revelations of words or phrases in a very rapid-fire presentation -- even with ten books the entire routine takes less than six or seven minutes. In the ten book routine as many as five of the books may be "special" -- the others are not gimmicked in any way -- and they will all withstand the closest scrutiny. In fact, I usually distribute them before the show and don't retrieve them until its conclusion.

Using a variety of books, employing several different methods and making varied revelations (e.g., first word, last word, long word, etc.) makes it virtually impossible for an observer to 'back engineer' and convincingly suggests that such tests could be done with any book and at the same time takes the heat off the books and places it on the performer and the effect. The books themselves become inconsequential.
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Postby Steve Dela » 06/17/09 08:51 AM

When I was doing my mind reading show it was fair to say I was making a living off the MOABT.

I can't recommend it enough. Luckily if you have your own show where people come to you... you dont have to worry about using gimicked books... people can't say anything.

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Postby Brian Marks » 08/06/09 10:32 PM

Okay. Barned and Noble had issued a generic "Barnes and Noble" version of dozens of classic book titles. I foud that Homer's Oddessy and Virgil's Aneid were of similiar size, the Aneid being slightly larger.

I bought 2 copies of the Oddessy and a copy of the Aneid. It took one cover off and threw it away. I took the cover off of the Aneid and it put on the the copy of the Oddessy. You now have the exact same boom with 2 different covers AND they look like normal books for the most part. The only problem is in the gimmicked book "the Oddessy" appears on the top of each page. I don't hand it out. I use it to have a page selected by 1 person and the other person holds the other book.
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Postby Dick Christian » 08/07/09 12:08 AM

Brian,

As you are no doubt aware, what you have done, in essence, is to combine Hoy's "Bold Book Test" with the "miscovered" book principle used in his Pocket Book Miracle book test both of which are described in his 1963 booklet "The Bold ad Subtle Miracles of Dr. Faust." While there may be earlier examples, the first reference to the use of duplicate books (in this case magazines) with different covers that I have found is Annemanns One Man Genuine Magazine Test* in his The Book Without A Name* published by Max Holden in 1931 (and described in Chapter 25, Magazine Tests). The more recent example that most are familiar with is Larry Becker's original "Flashback" published in 1978-79 as well as the subsequent "Ultimate Flashback" and variations found in numerous booktests by others over the years.
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Postby Brian Marks » 08/09/09 12:49 PM

I am aware that the idea of switching covers is not new. I am not claiming any originality in any sense than the selection of the Barnes and Noble brand book to do this. I hate making my own items as I suck at putting things together and yet this project went quite well. I have a gimmicked set without much effort, cost and it looks pretty damn good.
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Postby Dick Christian » 08/09/09 02:07 PM

Brian,

Didn't mean my remarks to be accusatory and your post certainly made no claim of originality. Your choice of classic books was a wise one and effectively reduces suspicion by taking the heat off the books themselves. By combining the principles from two different effects and thereby allowing a spectator to fairly select a page at random instead of the performer miscalling it (as one must in Hoy's "Bold Book Test"), you have taken advantage of the best features of both. You've put together a very workable and effective book test. If you have no objection to my doing so, I'd like to mention it in the "Encyclodia of Forcing Books & Book Tests" that I've been compiling and hope to have ready for publication by the end of 2011. I will only refer to the fact that you have combined the principles of the two Hoy tests and will not reveal the specific books that you use.

My purpose in posting the origin and history of the principles you've used was for the benefit of those who might not be aware of it.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 08/09/09 11:23 PM

Dick -- I presume you are familiar with the method behind Max Maven's "Autome" book test. Will your encyclopedia list any other books which share this feature? I won't ask you here for a list of titles (I believe that several were discussed on the Electronic Grymoire several years ago), but how many such books do you know about?
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Postby Dick Christian » 08/10/09 10:19 AM

Yes, quite familiar with Maven's "Autome." The list of books which share the same feature is virtually endless as careful examination will reveal that almost any book will contain certain words that appear with frequency throughout the text. Max refers to such books as "hybrid" or "natural" forcing books. In fact, in 2004 Ken Driscoll published a booklet titled "Natural Force Books I" (so named because a sequel was anticipated, but as far as I know never published) which not only lists some fourteen additional hybrid/natural forcing books with their respective force words, but describes Driscolls system for developing such a list for almost any genuine book. He also includes two additional and very powerful effects in the booklet.

One of the 40+ chapters in my book is devoted to hybrid/natural forcing books and the draft version indentifies about three dozen such books that I am currently aware of. As others are brought to my attention I add them to the list; however, since almost any book will meet the criteria it would be impossible to begin to list them all, so I don't know how much longer I will keep on adding new titles. All of the ones I've listed so far have been identified by other fans of book tests and the main reason I've cited them in my book is to avoid accusations that I've missed them when my book is finally published.

The inherent drawback with book tests that rely on that method, of course, is that one then needs some rational way of forcing the participating audience member to select an appopriate page and line containing the force word or phrase without resorting to some convoluted procedure that is bound to raise suspicion.

There are so many other book tests available that avoid that problem (e.g., MOAB and its several clones or books using the "flashback" principle where it is not necessary to force a page) that the only advantage of using a hybrid/natural forcing book is that it allows the use of otherwise ungimmicked books with familiar titles by known authors and which will therefor withstand the most rigorous examination. However, even that perceived advantage is minimized as there are several book tests on the market that use familiar titles by known authors in which the text, although altered for purposes of the test, has been altered in a way that makes the changes indetectable by anyone who is not familiar with the original text on a word-for-word basis. The books provided with the best such tests will pass close scrutiny despite the fact that they contain gimmicked text. There are also many tests that are designed to be done impromptu with almost any ungimmicked book and so require no modification or advance preparation of the book at all.

I will be happy to provide anyone who may be interested and sends me a request by PM with any of the following lists:

1)my list of hybrid/natural forcing books (approx. 36 titles)

2)a list of currently available book tests using familiar titles by known authors with gimmicked text but that will withstand if left in the hands of audience members

3)a list of currently available book tests that can be used with any ungimmicked book

All I ask in return is that interested parties provide me with a list of the book tests in their collections so that I can check for any that I may not already be aware of (and that I might then offer to purchase or trade for -- but which the owner would be under no obligation to sell or trade).
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Postby Bill Mullins » 08/10/09 01:45 PM

Thanks very much for such a detailed answer. I look forward to your Encyclopedia.
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Postby Brian Marks » 08/11/09 08:55 AM

Dick Christian wrote:Brian,

Didn't mean my remarks to be accusatory and your post certainly made no claim of originality. Your choice of classic books was a wise one and effectively reduces suspicion by taking the heat off the books themselves. By combining the principles from two different effects and thereby allowing a spectator to fairly select a page at random instead of the performer miscalling it (as one must in Hoy's "Bold Book Test"), you have taken advantage of the best features of both. You've put together a very workable and effective book test. If you have no objection to my doing so, I'd like to mention it in the "Encyclodia of Forcing Books & Book Tests" that I've been compiling and hope to have ready for publication by the end of 2011. I will only refer to the fact that you have combined the principles of the two Hoy tests and will not reveal the specific books that you use.

My purpose in posting the origin and history of the principles you've used was for the benefit of those who might not be aware of it.
you can definatly mention it in the book.
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Postby Ray Noble » 08/23/09 10:06 PM

For me I like using 'Reflections' from Outlaw Effects. I have found that it totally rocks and people are dumbfounded when I do it. Plus it fits in my shirt pocket and can be examined.

Also I enjoy doing 'Luna' because it isn't revealing a word, you are revealing a life.



Ray Noble
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Postby Brian Marks » 09/09/09 10:39 PM

has anyone worked with the Da Vinci Zone?
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Postby Dick Christian » 09/10/09 09:01 PM

Brian,

I have it in my collection and am familiar with it, although I have yet to perform it in a show and am unlikely to do so -- not because there is anything wrong with it, but simply because I have other booktests that I prefer to use in my routine. In addition to featuring a booktest routine prominently in my show I have been researching the history and evolution of forcing books and booktests for the past six+ years for a book I'm compiling and hope to publish in about two years. In the course of that research I have amassed a substantial collect of books and tests (i.e., an estimated 1,000-1,200 so far).

What is it that you want to know about the DaVinci Zone? I'll try to help to the extent that I can without exposing any more than necessary or appropriate.
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Postby mrgoat » 09/30/09 06:46 AM

I was trying to find this thread for someone. Search in the site search function found nothing useful for:

book test
"book test"
best book test

I went to google and typed:

geniimagazine book test

and this was top result

So there.

:)
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Postby El Mystico » 09/30/09 10:52 AM

it was a test.
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Postby Travis » 03/21/10 08:20 AM

The effect performed by Tim Conover, described by Dick above, can be found in David Harkey & Eric Anderson's "AH-HA". The title of the trick is "Scatterbrained". It kills.
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