Very large magic books

Discuss general aspects of Genii.

Postby Edwin Corrie » 05/02/03 03:52 AM

I was just wondering what people think about the increasing number of really huge and correspondingly highly priced magic books that are appearing these days. Even if the price reflects high production values and a great deal of work on the part of the authors, surely the market must be pretty small. "Greater Magic" held the honour of being the biggest magic book for some time, but now we have quite a few new candidates. I bought a reduced-price copy of "Stewart James in Print" (actually it was Tannens' old shop copy) and splashed out the full price for "The James File" because they seemed to be important books, but I have had to forego things like Lorayne's "Personal Collection", the new Al Baker book and others because 150 dollars is really quite a lot of money. The idea of making multiple volumes like "Card College" (suggested in a recent thread here on the Al Baker book) seems a good one to me because you could buy them one at a time and they would also be easier to refer to and less likely to fall apart.

Any thoughts?
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Postby James Foster » 05/02/03 05:56 AM

I'd argue that the trend isn't specifically towards bigger and more expensive books, but towards more books in general. You do raise two issues: cost and size.

Cost is always relative to the product in question. Not all books are equal. I'd argue that the Stewart James volumes are among the best deals in magic literature. You get an enormous amount of material, thoughtfully organized and edited by some very dedicated and generous folks.

Size can be a problem. Books can get too large for convenient use, but the thresehold is likely driven by each individual. I, too, would opt for smaller mulitple volumes as opposed to a single massive tome.

I look forward to reading other's thoughts on this topic.

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Postby Chris Bailey » 05/02/03 07:49 AM

I'll second that. I love the Vernon Chronicles. Luckily those weren't bound in a single volume or I probably wouldn't own them. The Al Baker book sounds great. But the simple fact is I can justify $40 to $50 for a book to my wife. But $150? Not likely.
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Postby CHRIS » 05/02/03 08:13 AM

Doing one large volume instead of multiple smaller volumes reduces the overall cost. Producing 3 individual bound books costs more than one larger one. So in the end the single volume version costs you less.

In my opinion these super large books like the James Files or Greater Magic or reprints of magazine runs make only sense electronically. Nobody can remember all the information they hold anyway. So to get as much as possible out of such great collections of information you will need to be able to search them. But that's just me ;)

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Postby James Foster » 05/02/03 08:37 AM

Originally posted by Chris Wasshuber:
In my opinion these super large books like the James Files or Greater Magic or reprints of magazine runs make only sense electronically. Nobody can remember all the information they hold anyway. So to get as much as possible out of such great collections of information you will need to be able to search them. But that's just me ;)

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Hmmm...I'd agree that retrieval tools are immensely important. The James books have an index, a useful feature. This is different than the ability to search, but not necessarily worse. Good indexing provides access not available through character-string matching. Unfortunately, most books don't invest in decent indexing, human-mediated or automated.

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Postby Pete Biro » 05/02/03 08:49 AM

Add the cost of Hernia surgery to those big books and you are in deep debt doo doo... :D
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Postby CHRIS » 05/02/03 12:24 PM

Originally posted by James Foster:
Hmmm...I'd agree that retrieval tools are immensely important. The James books have an index, a useful feature. This is different than the ability to search, but not necessarily worse. Good indexing provides access not available through character-string matching. Unfortunately, most books don't invest in decent indexing, human-mediated or automated.
James, you'r absolutely correct, a good well done index is sometimes more helpful than a simple keyword search. The best is to have both. However, even if you would have to each magic book an index, what you really wanted is one large master index. Otherwise you would have to look through all indices in all your books, still pretty much impossible with the average research library.

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Postby Guest » 05/02/03 04:17 PM

I wish there was a way to put books on a computer so one could just enter a key word or look at the index and click on what one wanted....if only that could happen.... As for Al Baker I'm tormented by it. Regals review made it look great, my finances say nyet.
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Postby CHRIS » 05/02/03 07:23 PM

Originally posted by Steve V':
I wish there was a way to put books on a computer so one could just enter a key word or look at the index and click on what one wanted....if only that could happen
Steve, that's what you can do with ebooks. Type in a keyword or more complex search and you will receive a list of ebooks and pages where your search was successful. At least that is how it works with the ebooks I publish.

And sometime in the future there will be cross links from one ebook to others which will make it easy to move around your ebook library following a specific line of thought.

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Postby Dave Egleston » 05/02/03 09:01 PM

You didn't pay Mr Corrie to start this thread, did you, E-book man??

I've been trying to get my thoughts straight on this subject all day.

I finally got some ebooks from Mr Racherbaumer's website - - I gave it a very good try on two different laptop computers, loaded it on the computer at work and printed out the manuscripts in a readable form - and now can put the books on a sheet music stand.

Having said that: I agree, what a great step forward it will be when you can come up with a database that will cross reference hundreds of books and I would buy that product right now!

There are few things in magic that is as wonderful as a new book just coming out of the wrapper - Opening it, looking at the table of contents, deciding what's the first thing to learn, reading the preface, introduction and finally the first effect.

As to the size of a book - I happen to love big books - I find them aesthetically pleasing, lending a sense of formality and history to magical education, helping to put the student in the right frame of mind to fully appreciate the work of those who have put their life's work in written form, passing that knowledge on for the ages - to be shared by a select and dedicated few. There is no video or CD that can convey that same feeling.

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Postby CHRIS » 05/03/03 04:58 AM

Dave,

why is the topic of 'ebooks' always drawing emotional responses: convey that same feeling

I tried to keep it very objective by stating that I think for large and massive books, the electronic format offers some unique features. That doesn't mean that ebooks are better or worse in general. And since most our experience is with books, that is what we are accustomed to and that is what most of us like and look forward too.

I am just trying to show alternatives and accentuate the differences.

BTW, I think 30 years from now some will have similar feelings and emotions to ebooks as we have now for books. We just can't imagine it now.

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Postby Dave Egleston » 05/03/03 06:56 AM

Good Morning Mr Wasshuber,

After reading my post again this morning - I can see where you would think it was more about ebooks - however, the fourth and fifth paragraphs were actually the thrust of the answer to the original question.

It's just an added extra bonus for me if I can "poke you with a stick" :D

There are few people I know who have a passion for their particular calling as you seem to have for your's - so it's almost too easy - The only thing I can say: I still continue to give eliterature a chance every few months - There's nothing I can do to stop it and we can continue to fool the teenagers into thinking it's a video game instead of a book.

But right now -- Give me a well published, leather bound, gold embossed, expensive, 800-900 page book and I'm happy for weeks.

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Postby Kendrix » 05/03/03 07:03 AM

Chris: It was an emotional response the first time I went to the library with the huge columns in the front and the smell of 1,000's of leather bound books. I spent many hours, also, while in college studying at the library as well. These events imprint very strong memories in most of us. I can't imagine a little store in a strip mall with memory chips that you take to "read" anytime and anywhere. Yes, it is more efficient and may even cost less, but, it means giving up a lot of pleasant time. So, we will try to "lighten up" about your e-books if you try to understand our situation.
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Postby Sal Perrotta » 05/03/03 10:43 AM

What is this all about???? Some guy seems to be UPSET because some others have had a passionate response about ebooks!!!

Firstly, in general, magic is an ART!! Passion about any part of magic is a good thing!! It is what causes an individual to explore, experiment, study and practice! So I think that any passionate response is a good thing!! NEVER, never appologize!!

As far as BIG books, my general opinion is that someone will will spend a dollar on something and if they lose it....big deal! But if spend $100 or more on a REAL book...something you may even have to justify to your wife!!....you will more often than not cherish it, take care of it, preserve it, read it and VALUE it!!! The lesson on big books for me is that it is most likely the person who really wants it will buy it...and those are the people you want to have that book!

As far as ebooks...well I have heard it said that the trend from books to ebooks is like the journey from records to cd's....what a shame that would be!! A book is so great to hold...to study, from beginning to end!! The index is NOT the most important part!! Maybe it may have an advantage and maybe it is cheaper but should you value it as much?
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Postby Temperance » 05/03/03 02:01 PM

Bigs books are fine (big as in content), but it's when the pages are humungous, A4 or bigger that things start to lose there appeal. LOTR is a big book but you can read it on the bus as it's not printed on massive pieces of paper. You can't read a lot of the massive tomes of magic on the bus without killing a few people in the process.

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Postby Glenn Godsey » 05/03/03 02:18 PM

Hmmm. Euan, what is LOTR? I have been trying to figure it out:

"Lexicon of Thread Relapses"?
"Legends of the ReSetters"?
"Levitations of Thumb-tip Reprobates"?
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Postby Robert Kane » 05/03/03 02:36 PM

LOTR denotes Lord of the Rings...but I too think it's a bit of a pain to read in a single volume. Try carrying it in your brief case or in a small carry on travel bag. I tried it recently and ended up going back to the individual novels of the trilogy.

However, I love the big magic volumes a la Todd Karr, Kaufman or Mike Caveney. It's been such a pleasure to sit down in a well lit place to enjoy reading these great books. A different experience. No, not a convenient experience, but a sumptuous, relaxing and fun one. I love it all...e-books, easy to carry paper backs and giant editions. It's all good! :)
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Postby Brad Henderson » 05/03/03 02:52 PM

Chris,

I would never buy a large book, such as the Baker book,in ebook format. I say this not to blast you, but to try to figure out, partly for myself, why I have such an aversion.

Part of it stems from the fact that I do not enjoy the process of reading from the computer screen COMBINED with the fact that I do not RETAIN as much information reading from the computer screen.

I cannot learn how to use a computer program with the help files, for example. I need a book or else I'm just scrolling and flipping endlessly among screens. The information never seems to "take."

Of course one could print the pages, but then why buy it in ebook format. You are now paying the cost of printing, and you don't even have covers to keep everything in order (assuming you plan to read the whole book). I will add this is the only way I've ever been able to make it through an ebook. Fortunately it was not a lengthy one, so self printing did not waste too many resources.

Having a Master's degree in education, I understand how there are different learning styles which affect people's ability to acquire new information. Has anyone in your field considered the possibility that there are similar paradigms within the subset of visual learning?

Perhaps books offer us a sort of kinesthetic element which help with recall (side of the page, beginning vs. end of the book) which we do not have when we are merely scrolling down page after page?

Any thoughts on this?

(Now I will say that a linked database would be great as I could do a search and then go to my own library and read the books revealed.)

So, why is it that ebooks don't "work" for me, and perhaps others?
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 05/03/03 03:39 PM

I've tried multiple ways of reading e-books. Laptop screens, Desktop screens, dedicated readers, PDA screens, etc...

I didn't enjoy the experience on any of them.

Perhaps in the future, someone will invent a reader that will "feel" like an actual book.

Of course, such a thing would have to be priced for the masses. Many of whom do not (sadly) put a premium on reading as it is.

I do think that the value of e-books will be greatly enhanced if the concept of "print on demand" ever becomes economically feasible.

No book would ever have to go out of print and purchasers would not be forced to read their book off a screen. You would just go to the store, order the book, and have it printed while you wait. The technology is there now, but it's still not where it needs to be. It could be good for niche markets like magic where the cost of a large print run can discourage the reprinting of many fine tomes...
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Postby James Foster » 05/03/03 06:38 PM

Brad and others make valid observations when they focus on the multiplicity of ways in which humans actually learn. It seems to me that the primacy of ebooks or printed text isn't and shouldn't be the issue. Both mediums may serve different people in different ways.

I would, however, add that the actuality of ebooks and the concept of multiple electronic means of intelligent access to the contents of these books are two very different things. Ebooks, in and of themselves, don't mean better access. Again, a simple search engine is only part of the equation. To provide quality indexed access to mulitple texts requires *human* textual analysis of content or the application of emerging automated indexing systems. This has rarely been done effectively in the conjuring literature.

This is an interesting discussion, but at the same time let's remember the primacy of actually reading and studying the text, be it digital or analog.

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Postby CHRIS » 05/03/03 08:11 PM

Very good discussion. It seems we have passed the violent flame war period of pro and con ebooks. I very much enjoy an intelligent exchange of ideas. Great! Long live the Genii forum.

Here a few comments. Studies have shown that people on average read 25% slower from screen than from book. Although I myself seem to read with the same speed off and on screen (probably I am a slow book reader :-)), I fully acknowledge this fact. In the future we will see better screens, better laptops, better PDAs. For example 300dpi screens are already in prototype. Such a resolution would come close to printed books. Laptops will get lighter, thinner, perhaps flexible screens a.s.o. There will be a convergence of applications. PDA's and cell phones and small laptops will all be integrated in one device. I don't think it will ever be 'like a book'. But the usability features will come close.

Also Brad's argument of learning style is very true. Some learn better from video others better from books and most appreciate personal instructions. I don't think that the book itself (paper, binding, ...) causes one to learn better or faster. But I very much believe that the written word allows a 'deeper' learning as opposed to video. I think this has to do with the mental processes which are being started when we read. When we read a story we create our own mental picture of people and location although there might not be a whole lot description about it. Similar happens in magic. If an effect is described in words we have to imagine how it would play out, rather than see a ready made performance like in a video. This additional 'mental work', I believe, causes a deeper learning and studying. In this respect books and ebooks are the same.

However, in my opinion the single biggest reason why ebooks have a slow adoption curve and sometimes are violently opposed is the fact that we humans are habit animals. Once a habit is formed it is very difficult, sometimes impossible, to break. Think about drinking, smoking, eating, ... Once we are used of doing a task a certain way we hardly ever change our procedures even if it would mean we could do it faster, better, cheaper, ...

I was fortunate that I made my first experiences with computers when I was 10 and since then very much spent a good piece of my waking hours with them. But for others, even booting up a computer can be a nightmare, or reading from a screen - yuk.

Imagine somebody would grow up with ebooks and no books. Imagine that all he ever does if he wants to read is go to his computer, laptop, PDA and read. I think that such a person after 20 or 30 years will have a real problem using books. Simply because he will be used to do things like search, cut and paste, hyperlink himself to references, a.s.o. None of which he can do with books, or at least not in the quick and easy manner it is possible with ebooks. Kids are doing more and more homework on their computers, research online. In about a generation (20-30 years) ebooks will be as large a market as books. That is my prediction.

What I want to say is that since we grew up with books and have learned to love and appreciate them it is for most hard to change over to ebooks.

But I think there is no need to 'change over'. There is room for both and a coexistance will benefit both sides. I have a big growing library and I don't think I will ever stop acquiring books. But I also have a growing ebook library with which I wouldn't want to be without.

However, there is one fundamental huge difference between books and ebooks. Books will not change significantly. They have been more or less the same for thousands of years. That is their 'features' and 'usage patterns' will not change. A book is a book. Ebooks on the other hand are still evolving. New features new usages are being implemented. Technology opens the doors to yet unkown innovations. See our discussions on XML and cross linking of ebooks, databases and such. Features like text-to-speech and automatic translation are all possible. This is one of the reasons I am so excited about ebooks.

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Postby Jim Riser » 05/03/03 10:20 PM

Another aspect of this conversation which has not been touched upon is the reason for buying either a book or ebook. Some books I buy are the deluxe version like Todd's publications. I buy these as much for the content as for the pleasure of touching of the finely printed page. For other books I really do not care what the format is nor the overall physical condition of the book. These texts I buy only for the content. An ebook can convey the desired content without the expense or storage space required by hard copy.

I own ebooks of collections of a group of out of print books, as well as, owning the original tomes. If I am doing research on a topic, I like to quickly search with the ebook then get the original book for the actual reading. I find it easier to actually turn a page than clicking "next" or "prev" buttons to move around.

Actually, I would like to have most of my books in both formats. Quick searching is the ebook forte and the physical pleasure of reading is the strength of the actual text.

I like both formats; but will not sell off all of my originals just yet. :)

I will continue to buy the hard copy for both pleasure and content. The ebooks will be for convenience or to just get the content.
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Postby CHRIS » 05/04/03 04:58 AM

Jim,

having book and ebook of the same contents is of course the ideal situation. And if we look at some of these almost unbelievable low ebook prices then it seems for many quite feasible to own both.

Take for example some of the recent released electronic magazines by Munari and Breese. Or take my Tarbell CD, where the ebook costs only $37 and an equivalent set of books somewhere around $200. Or The digital Sphinx, where a complete file goes for ~$5000, whereas the ebook version goes for only $300 (pre-publication), more than a factor 15 cheaper.

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Postby Todd Karr » 05/04/03 09:32 AM

Hi, everyone

I have thought about many aspects of the multivolume question. We're trying to create complete books that are enjoyable aesthetic experiences despite their size. The Baker book is huge but manageable and passes our horizontal couch-reading test.

On the other hand, the price of creating multiple volumes increases with separate binding processes and additional individual dustjackets. If we have a project that is too bulky, however, we will of course issue the book as separate volumes, like the enormous Fechner books.

As for the ebook question, I personally enjoy flipping through books and letting my eye be caught by images and effects. But for strict researching, ebooks can be convenient.

We were set to do a CD set of The Sphinx like Chris but stepped aside at his request. I wish him luck in this huge endeavor, which I look forward to as a great research tool.

Best wishes
Todd Karr
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Postby Guest » 05/04/03 09:39 AM

Chris:
The Sphinx CDs sound excellent but I'm confused about what version is available at what price. It looks like you're offering a prepublication price for a version without full references but we can pay more later for an "upgrade" to get all the features. Can you clarify if I am confused about this? Am I getting the full version for the prepub price or will I have to pay more later?
The timing is also in question...when is the preliminary version available and when is the full version expected (one year? many years?).
Anxiously awaiting, John
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Postby CHRIS » 05/04/03 12:02 PM

John,

sorry if my Sphinx website is unclear. I am not sure if this is the best thread to answer your question (moderators please feel free to move this to a more appropriate place if need be), but let me make it as brief as I can.

There will be two digital Sphinx versions. One is a digital facsimile. That is every page is available as an image, plus a completely hyperlinked table of contents and index, which are searchable. This means you cannot do a full text search through the Sphinx but through index and TOC. The manually created index is hyperlinked to the corresponding pages (these are about 30000 hyperlinks all manually created - quite insane but I think it is a must)

And then there will be a fully converted digital Sphinx where you can do a full text search. Otherwise these two versions are identical. Since the full conversion will take a long time mainly due to proof reading and corrections, usually a dozen or so errors per page, I am first releasing the facsimile version and at a later time the fully converted one.

The facsimile version pre-publication prize is $300. The regular price will be $395 (once the pre-publication offer goes away). The pricing of the converted version is not yet determined, but let's say it is $500. Then everyone who purchased the facsimile version will be able to upgrade by just paying the difference which would be in this example $105.

So if you buy now the facsimile version you will not have to pay double to get the fully converted one once it is available. But if you decide to get the facsimile now you can already enjoy the digital Sphinx.

Regarding full text conversion and searching, there is one possibility: I could do a conversion to text without proof reading and manual corrections. This would allow one to do a full text search with the caveat that some words will be spelled wrong and thus the search might not be in all cases successfull. Some pages can convert badly others can be almost perfect. I will have to test and see if this yields good results. If it does I will include such raw conversion into the facsimile edition. I think this is how Munari and Breese do their ebooks. Up to know for all my ebooks we did a manual error corrections after OCR, which takes for the majority of ebooks longer than any of the other tasks in the book to ebook conversion process. I am sure there are still errors which we do not catch but the result is a lot better than straight out of the OCR program.

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Postby Bill Mullins » 05/04/03 11:03 PM

Originally posted by Chris Wasshuber:
Imagine somebody would grow up with ebooks and no books. Imagine that all he ever does if he wants to read is go to his computer, laptop, PDA and read. I think that such a person after 20 or 30 years will have a real problem using books. . . . .
Ebooks on the other hand are still evolving. New features new usages are being implemented.
Aren't these two points somewhat contradictory? Can someone gather 20-30 years experience with something that we now call an "ebook"?

I've been messing with computers for nearly 25 years, and my father (a computer programmer for a shoe company) for nearly forty. There hasn't been even a 10 year period in that time (or anywhere in the history of modern computers) where the user interface was anything like constant. If it is a requirement that we habitually use ebooks for them to gain the acceptance of a book, it may never happen, since computers stay in too great a state of flux for any given process to become habitual.
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Postby Edwin Corrie » 05/05/03 06:41 AM

It wasn't my intention to start up the books vs. e-books debate again (and no, Mr Wasshuber didn't pay me to start this thread at least he hasn't yet), but it's a fair point because electronic storage is very practical for large amounts of information. I don't own any e-books, though they are clearly a valuable resource when you know something is mentioned somewhere in a book but can't find it again. The thought of being able to own rare old books like Roterberg's "New Era Card Tricks" so easily and cheaply is also appealing. However, as many others have already said, I wouldn't really want to learn tricks or read Al Baker's life story from some kind of computer screen. Technology will probably change all that before too long; e-paper and e-ink are already a reality, and maybe that's what we'll all be reading in 10 years' time. (There's an interesting summary of the arguments for and against e-books at http://www.wohl.com/wa0145.htm, with links to information about the other technologies.)

In any case, my main concern was really about how many people are willing to buy these new "super-books". I too have trouble enough justifying the purchase of a 50-dollar book to my wife, especially since magic is just a hobby for me (even for Christmas and birthdays she'd rather buy me clothes or something "useful"). It's hard enough to choose which of the many 50-dollar books appearing every month I really need to have, but when the prices start going much above that even I begin to feel a bit guilty. On the other hand it's great that magic has risen to a level where we can have beautifully produced and bound books, and I certainly appreciate the work that goes into them and the dignity they bring to our art. The Al Baker book, for example, is one I would love to own, but unfortunately the price is simply more than I am prepared to pay. To use a slightly trivial example, I find it easier to buy three bars of quite nice French chocolate for 1 Euro each over a period of three days than one bar of really nice Swiss chocolate all at once for 3 Euros. Okay, the analogy is flawed in several ways (for one thing, the one bar of Swiss chocolate doesn't last me three days far from it), but the point is that it seems less extravagant to spread the expenditure.

The other issue is sheer size. Clearly one big volume must be cheaper to produce, but surely with a four-volume set each volume has its own profit margin, and if more people buy them (one by one over a period of time) they you still have at least the same amount of profit. Multiple volumes also offer flexibility, so that, for example, those with no interest in historical anecdotes need not buy volume 4 of the Vernon Chronicles although even there I suspect that the collector instinct in many of us will probably make us buy the whole set eventually.

Then there is the related matter of practicality. My ex-Tannens shop copy of "Stuart James in Print" is very much the worse for wear, and it's also not something you can easily take on the train with you.

So unless I win the lottery I suppose I'll have to content myself with drooling over the adverts in Genii and resort to reading some of the vast number of smaller books already accumulated on my shelves.

(Sorry for the long post, but as Goethe said "I haven't had time to make it shorter".)
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Postby Dave Egleston » 05/05/03 07:21 AM

I guess I just don't get the price thing - If one spends 50 dollars a month on books - why not save for three months to own a precious book like this?

I remember a thread last year discussing the profitability with books. I wondered why the producers don't charge more. I felt the general consensus was that books are priced at what the market will bear right now - However - Britland's book sold out - The Houdin book is sold out before general distribution in the United States and I don't think the Baker book will be available for long,

Obviously there are two schools of thought about books, and I think to simplisticly break it down - It's a matter of quality versus quantity. If I had my "druthers" give me Mr Karr's book over a majority of cheaper magic books available today

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Postby CHRIS » 05/05/03 08:21 AM

Here are two thoughts for the ones that rather like to spend small amounts at a time than one big payment to get a big book or collection of magazines.

1) Finanzing. Maybe there are dealers who would finance such purchases. Pay $30 for the next 5 months and receive Al Baker today. Has anybody every tried this with a magic book?

2) Ebooks could be easily broken up into any number of pieces without incurring significant overhead. Then one can buy one piece at a time. It would even be thinkable to go down to the page level. "Ok so you want pages 320 to 415?" - "Yes" - "Here you go!"

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Postby James Foster » 05/05/03 08:36 AM

Originally posted by Dave Egleston:
I guess I just don't get the price thing - If one spends 50 dollars a month on books - why not save for three months to own a precious book like this?
Dave's point is very appropriate. For example, any of the Stewart James volumes are vastly underpriced considering the material and the effort required to bring it together. For a couple of hundred dollars you can have a couple of thousand pages of well-written and edited material to last a lifetime. The same would be true of the Baker opus. Isn't that a reasonable investment? Opinions may differ...
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 05/05/03 09:23 AM

CONFESSION OF A BOOK GUY:

I frequent book stores at least four times weekly and visit my library once a week. I buy at least four books weekly. Hence, I'm undeniably a bibliobulemic and most definitely a BOOK PERSON. I'm also a huge fan of well-made, expensive, limited editions and love the big, expensive magic books that periodically come out. I buy all of them. I want to see such books on my shelf. I want to feel their weight (their gravitas?). I want to smell them.

Although I produce e-books on a limited basis for my small cabal of customers, the allure of doing this is merely to provide information or "content" in a TIMELY and CONVENIENT way. Also, the price of producing AND consuming is 75% LESS. This is a good thing.

To Xerox Marlo's RIFFLE SHUFFLE SYSTEMS, for example, costs more (with postage)than it does to provide an e-book for customers who merely want the "content" to read and study. $60 versus $15-20. (By the way, my Premium Members will automatically get this e-book along with the other e-books that are posted during the 12-month period.)

I'm now toying with the idea of offering customers who want a hardcover, durable edition of any new book (eventually) a "first-look" e-book version at no extra cost or for a very modest fee. In other words, they get both.

Obviously I'm not profit-motivated. I'm simply experimenting with other ways to provide "content" using our available technology. The jury is still out, but so far I'm encouraged.

The other aspects that allure me regarding e-books, CD-ROMs and so forth are their compression, accessibility, and the time-saving search-ability features. As a researcher, being able to point and click is magical and a real boon.

I've been enjoying the back-and-forth on this topic. Obviously its a plus to be part of a TIMELY, CONVENIENT, and cost-effect Genii Forum, proving the merits of our current technologies. Thanks to all...

Onward...
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Postby CHRIS » 05/05/03 09:45 AM

Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:
I'm now toying with the idea of offering customers who want a hardcover, durable edition of any new book (eventually) a "first-look" e-book version at no extra cost or for a very modest fee. In other words, they get both.
This is a very interesting thought. I have seen several scientist colleagues in my field publish an early electronic version of their upcoming book online or distributed on CD to receive early feedback and guidance. If you want 'beta testers for books' or should I say 'beta readers'. The final version is then printed. This is a win-win situation, because the author can write a better book with all the feedback and comments, he might even get an early look ahead of how much interest his latest manuscript is getting. And the 'beta readers' get a free or almost free work, and in the end even have the gratification of being part of the book if they provided feedback.

Jon, go for it. This would really make a worthwhile experiment. If I could be of any help, let me know. I have just ordered a new CD and DVD manufacturing robot which means I have free capacity to produce small run silver discs ;)

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Postby Guest » 05/05/03 02:45 PM

The facsimile version pre-publication prize is $300. The regular price will be $395 (once the pre-publication offer goes away). The pricing of the converted version is not yet determined, but let's say it is $500. Then everyone who purchased the facsimile version will be able to upgrade by just paying the difference which would be in this example $105.

So if you buy now the facsimile version you will not have to pay double to get the fully converted one once it is available. But if you decide to get the facsimile now you can already enjoy the digital Sphinx.
Chris: Thanks for the info. I will wait till the Sphinx is less nebulous in price, content, and delivery date.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/05/03 05:20 PM

I'm a little late to this most recent discussion on this subject, however I do have a few comments to make:
1) No one would ever have given a hoot about Greater Magic as an e-book. It is the immense size of the book, while retaining great readability, that is part of its enduring appeal. There is no "size" to an e-book. It's just more or less stuff in an electronic file. There is no joy to holding it, no joy in turning page after page while sitting on a bench under a tree on a beautiful day, or in a quiet comfy chair in the corner of your library or living room.
2) Chris states that with 300 dpi monitors in the prototype stage, reading an electronic document will be almost like reading a book. There are several reasons this statement is not really true, but mostly it reveals that Chris has no understanding of what appeals to people about reading pieces of paper bound together instead of squinting at a lit screen.
3) Even a 300 dpi monitor cannot begin to compare to the 1250 to 2500 dpi of type and line art on the printed page.
4) Chris' statement about his Tarbell course on CD-Rom is also not quite true: what he is selling is the orignal "Tarbell System" sold in 60 lessons in the 1920s, NOT the "Tarbell Course in Magic" in 8 volumes as now sold by D. Robbins. The "Tarbell System" routinely sells for $1 per lesson, or $60 for the entire system as originally published (not "an equivalent set of books somewhere around $200" which he writes).
As you'll read in the June "Genii Speaks," in my opinion the days of reprinting the older magic magazines in book form are now over. With the onslaught of digital versions from Martin Breese, Geno Munari, and Chris Wasshuber, you will never see the kind of reprints I did for Mahatma, Stanyon's Magic, Houdini's Conjuror's Monthly, or even Invocation and New Invocation.
We really have no choice in the matter.
Some of these digital magazines are handy because of the search features and, having located the items, you can then print them out instantly.
And, many of you simply can't afford $5000 for a file of The Sphinx, or couldn't find one even if you had the money. So, for you, the electronic version is good news.
Still, it's a very sad day, indeed.
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Postby CHRIS » 05/05/03 08:18 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
1) No one would ever have given a hoot about Greater Magic as an e-book.
Let's try it then. If you give me the OK, I publish an ebook version of Greater Magic and sell it. Let's see how many I can sell and if somebody gives a hoot.

3) Even a 300 dpi monitor cannot begin to compare to the 1250 to 2500 dpi of type and line art on the printed page.

Not all books are printed to that kind of resolution. The paper morphology doesn't allow it. If you take high quality glossy paper, yes, you are correct. But most of the books printed in the last years are more equivalent to a 600dpi print. My main point was that screens will get better. 300dpi is the next step. There is no technical reason why they shouldn't become even better. I didn't mean to imply that screens will become like books, but rather screens will become much better than they are today approaching books. Thin flexible screens will most likely not be exactly like paper, but will approach their 'usability and features'. For example you will be able to roll them or fold them up. You will be able to sit on them, take notes on them a.s.o.

4) Chris' statement about his Tarbell course on CD-Rom is also not quite true: what he is selling is the orignal "Tarbell System" sold in 60 lessons in the 1920s, NOT the "Tarbell Course in Magic" in 8 volumes as now sold by D. Robbins. The "Tarbell System" routinely sells for $1 per lesson, or $60 for the entire system as originally published (not "an equivalent set of books somewhere around $200" which he writes).

If you read my Tarbell website then I am pretty clear about what it is. Yes, individual lessons sell for $1 to $2. But a complete set is not so easy to come by. If you have a complete set in good condition I will buy it for $60. I have dealt in the past with two 'complete sets'. First they were not complete and second they were not $60 but more than twice the price. Additionally you get the Post Graduate Lesson which I haven't seen selling at all. Don't know how much this is going for. Again, I think you try to make an argument on numbers. My point is that the ebook version is cheaper not just by a few percent but by multiples and readily available in excellent condition.

As you'll read in the June "Genii Speaks," in my opinion the days of reprinting the older magic magazines in book form are now over. With the onslaught of digital versions from Martin Breese, Geno Munari, and Chris Wasshuber, you will never see the kind of reprints I did for Mahatma, Stanyon's Magic, Houdini's Conjuror's Monthly, or even Invocation and New Invocation.
We really have no choice in the matter.
Some of these digital magazines are handy because of the search features and, having located the items, you can then print them out instantly.
And, many of you simply can't afford $5000 for a file of The Sphinx, or couldn't find one even if you had the money. So, for you, the electronic version is good news.


True statement. However, once an ebook is available it is quite easy to also reprint it using print-on-demand technology. With a good binding this could make even color reprints possible and affordable (and yes, these would be 1200dpi prints). So I wouldn't say it is a sad day, rather a new day started.

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Postby Chris Aguilar » 05/05/03 09:39 PM

Originally posted by Chris Wasshuber:
[QB]
Not all books are printed to that kind of resolution. The paper morphology doesn't allow it. If you take high quality glossy paper, yes, you are correct. But most of the books printed in the last years are more equivalent to a 600dpi print.
You do realize that text at 600 dpi is 4 times the resolution of text at 300 dpi don't you? It's a fairly substantial difference. And when you go up to print at 1200/2400 dpi, there is no comparison at all.


True statement. However, once an ebook is available it is quite easy to also reprint it using print-on-demand technology. With a good binding this could make even color reprints possible and affordable (and yes, these would be 1200dpi prints).
I'm quite excited about the possibilites of "print on demand". However, the most commonly available POD machines currently use inkjet technology at an average resolution of 300 dpi. Also, most of them bind using hot glue. So whilst you get a book on demand, currently, the books produced are fairly low quality. Let's hope that changes.
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Postby CHRIS » 05/05/03 11:15 PM

Originally posted by wert:
You do realize that text at 600 dpi is 4 times the resolution of text at 300 dpi don't you? It's a fairly substantial difference.
And what is your point? That one needs more video memory? Or more processing power? None of these things is an issue.

I'm quite excited about the possibilites of "print on demand". However, the most commonly available POD machines currently use inkjet technology at an average resolution of 300 dpi. Also, most of them bind using hot glue. So whilst you get a book on demand, currently, the books produced are fairly low quality. Let's hope that changes.
I don't know where you got this information from. Looks to me you are 5 years behind the curve. POD uses laser and color laser printer technology with typically 600dpi. You can achieve offset like print quality. BTW inkjet printers are nowadays capable of printing 1200dpi and higher.

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Postby Edwin Corrie » 05/05/03 11:26 PM

We're veering back towards e-books again, but I suppose the issue of cost is quite an important one.

Just to clarify: I too am a book guy, and would buy a lot more books if I could. The problem is I can't justify spending even 50 dollars a month on them because I have a family to support and lots of things that take priority over my hobby. I might order two or three books a couple of times a year, and there are so many coming out that if I only bought two of the "very big" ones a year I'd miss out on all the others. Agreed, not all of them are essential, but there are plenty to choose from that are definitely worth having, and I am already forced to be very selective. The idea of financing sounds good to me, although I might have trouble convincing my wife that it's any better in the long run, especially if I were paying off three 150-dollar books at the same time.

I'm not saying these books shouldn't be produced or even that they are overpriced in relation to their content. It's just that it vexes me to see so many gems beyond my reach. Then again, I'm probably luckier than some in that I am able to buy at least a few now and then. The other thing is, as a few people have pointed out recently, that with this constant flow of new material (and old material being republished) we don't have time to absorb it all because in a month's time there are another three new blockbusters full of closely guarded underground secrets on the market.

Maybe I'm the only one for whom it's a problem. I was just wondering how others feel.

(Errata from my last post: Stewart James, not Stuart; and the quotation seems to be attributed to Blaise Pascal more often than to Goethe.)
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 05/05/03 11:59 PM

Originally posted by Chris Wasshuber:
And what is your point? That one needs more video memory? Or more processing power? None of these things is an issue.

My point is that current technology doesn't give you 300 dpi in a portable reader, much less 600 dpi. You use them nearly interchangeably not seeming to realize that there is a major qualitative difference between even 300 and 600 dpi. Until inexpensive portable e-book readers offer 600 or more dpi, IMHO, they will not be as easy on the eyes as a well typset printed book. Can you point us to any currently available dedicated readers that give us the sharpness and clarity of a properly typeset book?

I don't know where you got this information from. Looks to me you are 5 years behind the curve. POD uses laser and color laser printer technology with typically 600dpi. You can achieve offset like print quality. BTW inkjet printers are nowadays capable of printing 1200dpi and higher.
I do hope you're correct as I feel that POD is the solution for those of use who detest reading our books from a screen. I want the POD stuff to give a binding that won't be too fragile. The few POD books I've seen had bindings that were quite unimpressive.

Do you have any actual links to companies that manufacture the machines that have the specs you claim? I'd be interested in doing a bit of research on them. I found some stuff here at the following link, but it doesn't give as much info as I'd like.

http://www.sdmc.com/sdm/sdm2.nsf/index/homepage
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