Why did most people hate Sawa's Library of Magic Vol.1?

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/21/01 02:54 PM

I've always wondered why the book I published in the 1980s (can anyone remember back that far?), Sawa's Library of Magic, Vo.1, sold so poorly. It took YEARS AND YEARS to sell the 2,000 I printed, and that doomed the other two volumes in the proposed series.
It still seems like a great book to me ... what went wrong? :confused:
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Postby Guest » 07/21/01 04:52 PM

I found most of the stuff in Sawa's Library of Magic vol.1 to be difficult to do, difficult to manage (angly) or difficult to "get into". I still use "Moses", however -- with a Himber wallet for the switch ;)
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/21/01 07:46 PM

Doug,
Was it really practical matters about the material, such as angles or difficulty, that prevented people from buying a book like that? What about just for academic interest--just to learn more about the craft?
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Postby Guest » 07/21/01 09:46 PM

Just as most magic shop patrons buy Hotrods and Svengali Decks, most magic book buyers are looking for practical material. Some of the Svengali Deck buyers will go further. Similarly, some of the magic book buyers will go through the "looking for inspiration" and eventually the "learning about the craft" stage. Unfortunately, the numbers dwindle as the approach matures.

Incidentally, The Sawa Library is one book that I have yet to see on eBay: those who have it apparently want to keep it.
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Postby Robert Kane » 07/21/01 10:42 PM

Books sell by their covers and perceived content. Dr. Sawa did and does not have the name recognition in the USA/UK like a Burger, Ortiz or a Lorayne. That's not an insult, just an observation. Therefore perhaps the material was perceived as too exotic or esoteric...too much of an unknown for the average magic consumer....at least that's what my marketing-numb brain thought when I paged through a copy a few years back
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Postby Ryan Matney » 07/22/01 12:46 AM

Richard,
I purchased the book about a year ago directly from you. I had been looking around for it for awhile. I absolutly love it!! I don't know what went wrong, magic buyers can be very dense at times. Does this mean we will NEVER see the other Volumes? :( Maybe a regular Sawa Column in Genii?? I hope the material sees publication somewhere.
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Postby Guest » 07/22/01 10:24 AM

It is true that people have certain names they want to see on a book, maybe if you wrote Kaufman nice and big in the cover (Lorayne style) you would sell more copies.

[ July 22, 2001: Message edited by: Richard Kaufman ]
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Postby pduffie » 07/22/01 10:45 AM

In my recollection, Dr. sawa was a well-known name when the book was published. Maybe the title of the book put people off? Perhaps they thought it was a bibliography! :-()

BTW - among many clever ideas, there is a dynamite card move/concept in Sawa's book.

Best Wishes

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Postby Guest » 07/23/01 05:32 PM

His book came out before I took up magic. I think I have seen it once but never had a chance to look through it.

I have always heard good things about him so I don't know why it didn't sell.
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Postby Jim Patton » 07/23/01 08:10 PM

I recall a memorable evening spent in the company of the truly amazing Dr. Sawa back in the seventies. This was on his first visit to Calif. For a full hour he completely dumbfounded us with his marvelous miracles with rope! This is the material that I looked forward to in the planned subsequent volumes...Mores the pity... :(
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/23/01 09:37 PM

Hi Jim,
Welcome to the forum!
I think some of the rope material you saw Dr. Sawa due was in the book. He did have quite a bit more, so it's possible you saw other material, but he was doing the material in the book when he traveled in the United States because it was in his lecture.
Hey, when are you going to finish YOUR book? :)
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Postby Guest » 08/24/01 09:35 AM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
I've always wondered why the book I published in the 1980s (can anyone remember back that far?), Sawa's Library of Magic, Vo.1, sold so poorly. It took YEARS AND YEARS to sell the 2,000 I printed, and that doomed the other two volumes in the proposed series.



It seems to me "Why did most people hate...?" is the wrong question; it presupposes that most people were familiar enough with it to have formed an opinion. More likely, they either ignored it, or never became aware of it in the first place.
One reason that it might have been ignored is a fairly dry title: "Library of Magic" is pretty generic, if you ask me. Of course, you might think, but it's "SAWA'S Library of Magic", but I'm not sure that would leap out at me if I were just looking at a catalog or scanning a shelf (or a web-page, but I figure that if this was the '80s that wouldn't have been a factor).
Another possible reason is that not everyone is thrilled by seeing "Volume 1" on the cover of a book, particularly when it's an unknown quantity. The individual volumes of The Art of Astonishment stand on their own; not so much the volumes of Card College. I think a lot of people look at such a purchase as not being a single $30 (or whatever) transaction, but as part of a larger $90 transaction--which may not ever be completed if the rest of the set fails to come out (as in fact it did in this case).
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Postby Joe Fraher » 04/09/06 11:18 PM

Richard - I saw Dr. Sawa perform in Japan 20 years ago, and--as you know--he did stunningly beautiful magic. A memorable piece was the repeated production of pearls as he folded an aqua blue hankerchief back and forth in time with the sound of ocean waves crashing. I eagerly bought vol 1 and have been patiently waiting for the subsequent volumes. I finally did a search of the Genii Forum for "Dr. Sawa" to see if I could find out their status and sadly found this topic from five years back. It sounds as if the next two volumes are doomed never to appear. Is that right? If name recognition is an issue, maybe Ryan Matney's idea of a regular column in Genii with Dr. Sawa's unpublished material might stimulate enough interest to make vol. 2 a better seller. I still hope maybe someday...
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Postby Guest » 04/10/06 04:00 AM

Richard, I would also welcome a column on Dr.Sawa's material. I loved his book. Thanks!
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Postby Guest » 04/10/06 09:39 AM

The low sales shocked me as well. I consider Sawa one of the most brilliant, creative minds in magic.

Name recognition may have been the main factor. The way you get a rep in the States is to tour around and do lectures, conventions and put out articles, books and such. Sawa has never done this, and has only had a handful of items in Genii. The general magic market is not familiar enough with his work.

Sawa's work is fantastic. Considering the questionable quality of much of the other stuff coming out these days, it is surprising it is not a best seller. Maybe his quiet genius could not be heard above the hype of other, less deserving, books and videos.

Maybe it is time for Genii Books to consider a new branch......a digital division which would release some of the other Sawa material. The only expense is writing and illustrating. No printing or shipping.

I, for one, am very eager to see the rest of that material!
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Postby MitchSchneiter » 04/10/06 10:32 AM

I bought the book when it came out and have yearned for the subsequent volumes to come out ever since. Sawa's clever effects and plots are a joy and an inspiration to think outside the norm. Richard, please publish a follow-up volume...or two!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 04/10/06 10:53 AM

The main problem is that when I got to Japan in 1985, I arrived at Sawa's house only to discover that he had no intention of allowing me to print the material most people expected to see in the book: the tricks with seashells, ropes, sand, nuts, etc. He was resolute that he would not publish his "children."
He never seems to have changed his mind, which is a shame. I have a few more unpublished tricks that are good (and a bunch that aren't so good), and I'll eventually put them in Magicana.
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Postby Guest » 04/10/06 11:40 AM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
... He was resolute that he would not publish his "children." ...
I hope he changes his mind about that.

Around 1977 I very much enjoyed the Sawa issue of Genii Magazine with the slot machine, breaking a silver dollar into dimes, the spoon trick and the promise of more to come involving seashells.

The poetry in his magic, especially the trick with the ladybugs on the tree branch made me all the more curious to buy the larger book when I came across a copy.

Perhaps he will visit America again and I might get to see some of these things in person.
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Postby Matthew Field » 04/11/06 03:19 AM

From what I can see, U.S. magicians are ethnocentric -- their world-view is hazy when itcomes to magic from coutries other than their own.

The Sawa book, 'New Magic of Japan,' 'Five Times Five Scotland,', 'The Book' (Flicking Fingers of Germany) -- these never made it to the top of the charts.

Somed magicians (e.g. Tamariz, Kaps) make it through the barrier. But since moving to England I've been amazed at the wealth of magic around the world.

Joe Stevens made an effort with some early videos to expose this material, as has our own Mr. Kaufman (especially with regard to Japanese magicians).

Maybe as the world 'shrinks' more non-U.S. magicians will be able to penetrate the veil.

Watch out for John Archer -- he's first rate. Derren Brown and Guy Hollingworth are already known, Nicholas Einhorn a bit less so, but he deserves to be as well.

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Postby Guest » 04/11/06 08:26 AM

er...so Richard, your question is - why weren't sales so hot for this book which contains Sawa's second best material?
Have you answered it yourself???

However - I completely agree with Matt's point; any magician wanting to distinguish himself from the crowd would benefit from looking at the magic being developed in other countries. And that definitely includes Richard's books on Japanese magic. (And Peter Duffie's new ebook "England Up Close")
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 04/11/06 08:31 AM

The book that came out included a lot of Sawa's excellent coin material, and much standup material with ropes (the kind of stuff people are always asking to see more of in print), and some creative magic with spongeballs. At that point in time, it SHOULD have sold well.
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Postby Guest » 04/11/06 01:40 PM

I enjoyed this book and was very familar with Dr. Sawa's work at the time. I would suggest to those who have the book to read the introduction as one of the best coin effects in the book is described there.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 04/11/06 01:58 PM

It should have been called, "SAWA Volume Two." That way, the insatiable itch that true collectors have to complete any series would have impelled them to buy it because they would fear a sell-out by the time Volume One was released.

Has anyone considered the effect on sales of having Matthew Field as the editor of the book? He edited my book, "Creating Human Intestines From Balloon Doggies" and it sold very, very poorly.
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Postby Guest » 04/11/06 02:43 PM

Originally posted by Bob Farmer:
It should have been called, "SAWA Volume Two." That way, the insatiable itch that true collectors have to complete any series would have impelled them to buy it because they would fear a sell-out by the time Volume One was released.

Has anyone considered the effect on sales of having Matthew Field as the editor of the book? He edited my book, "Creating Human Intestines From Balloon Doggies" and it sold very, very poorly.
Don't you mean "Creating Balloon Doggies From Human Intestines?"
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Postby Bob Farmer » 04/11/06 03:06 PM

No.
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Postby Guest » 04/11/06 03:23 PM

Perhaps when that book first came out, the level of overall skill in the majority of the non-professional world wasn't high enough for such a work. I believe that at the time, the popular magic was the Paul Harris, Darryl, Mike Ammar school which made magic accessible to a vast majority and certainly pulled me up to the next level. I bought the book when it first came out and I still have it. I definately wasn't ready for it at the time but now that you have caused me to pull it off my shelf, I believe I will have another look at it! I only wish I could see Dr. Sawa perform. Perhaps a DVD would be a better seller?
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Postby Ryan Matney » 04/11/06 06:49 PM

I now think that the title of the book probably hurt its sales. Wonder how many people thought it was an Albo type book?
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 04/12/06 05:55 PM

I bought this book when it first came out and I still like it. I refuse to cut up and use that nifty jumbo card that came with it, and the vintage Sawa photo with Mike Skinner sporting that long mustache is positively way cool. :)
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Postby Guest » 04/12/06 06:23 PM

I'm amazed to hear that it sold poorly. Is it possible that it's the variety of material that put people off?

I see so many posts on the 'net of people asking for "the best tricks using the Elmsley count" or the best tricks using a shell coin, that I'm begining to think many magic buyers don't want to learn anything new, they just want to learn something else...
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Postby Guest » 04/12/06 07:34 PM

It is interesting that this thread was rejuvinated after a couple years of languishing. In an attempt to add an extremely late two cents, I have to admit that not buying this book when it came out was just one of those things. You cannot get EVERY book. You can't learn EVERY-THING. For me, it happened to be one of those delicious-looking products that drifted past like so much other water under the bridge.

I am an artist. I KNOW how it feels when something into which you've invested so much and on which you have worked so hard, doesn't "go-over" or sell for one reason or another. To one degree or another, it kills you.

So now, after all this, I am guilty as hell I haven't tracked down a copy after all these years; because I knew how great Sawa was.

--What really compelled me to write is the fact that Sawa's issue of Genii HAS to be one of the top-10 issues from the 1970s. His "Slot Machine" is legendary--to inspire Mr. Carney and Mr. Dingle (among others) speaks volumes. His paddle routine with lady bugs vanishing-from and reappearing-on a leafy twig blowing in the wind is great; the broken and restored spoon (which prompted work by Mr. Sankey and Mr. Weber among others) is likewise great.

Could this the beginning of some sort of Sawa groundswell? Where is Dr. Sawa today? I am going to thumb through my Sawa issue of Genii again, and again it will slay me. :p
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 04/12/06 08:14 PM

castawaydave, I did an entire Magicana sometime within the last three years that consisted entirely of unpublished Sawa routines. Not a single person has mentioned it!
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Postby Guest » 04/12/06 08:46 PM

I am truly sorry I missed it. I will find out which back-issue it was and order.
P.S. It's getting late out there on the east coast, isn't it?
P.P.S. I just sent you a snail-mail package. Keep your eyes peeled, sir...
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Postby Joe Pecore » 04/13/06 02:47 AM

Based on Open Genii Index (http://themagicfiles.com/genii/search.php), the recent issue of Genii that has Dr. Sawa routines is November 2002 (Christian Fechner is on the cover).

Here are some more and the routines that are in the November 2002 issue:


Our Cover
Dr. Hiroshi Sawa
(Article)
by Bill Larsen & Shimada (Vol. 41, No. 1, Jan. 1977)


Sawa's Slot Machine
(Coins)
by Michael Skinner (Vol. 41, No. 1, Jan. 1977)


Sawa's "Gary Ueller"
(Miscellaneous Props)
by Michael Skinner (Vol. 41, No. 1, Jan. 1977)


Sawa's Lady Bug Trick
(Miscellaneous Props)
by Michael Skinner (Vol. 41, No. 1, Jan. 1977)


Magicana
Submarine Coins by Dr. Sawa
(Coins)
by Richard Kaufman (Vol. 62, No. 12, Dec. 1999)


The Coin Mysteries of Dr. Sawa
(Article)
by Richard Kaufman (Vol. 65, No. 11, Nov. 2002)


Marvelous Coin to Ring
(Coins)
by Hiroshi Sawa (Dr.) (Vol. 65, No. 11, Nov. 2002)


Mother and Daughter
(Coins)
by Hiroshi Sawa (Dr.) (Vol. 65, No. 11, Nov. 2002)


The Sleeve Shootout
(Coins)
by Hiroshi Sawa (Dr.) (Vol. 65, No. 11, Nov. 2002)


Remote Control Coins Through Table
(Coins)
by Hiroshi Sawa (Dr.) (Vol. 65, No. 11, Nov. 2002)


Why a Big Purse?
(Coins)
by Hiroshi Sawa (Dr.) (Vol. 65, No. 11, Nov. 2002)


Soul of the Butterflies
(Miscellaneous Props)
by Hiroshi Sawa (Dr.) (Vol. 65, No. 11, Nov. 2002)
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 04/13/06 08:07 AM

I am astounded that not a single person has commented on the Sleeve Shootout. When I first saw Sawa perform this, I had no idea where the jumbo coins were coming from and assumed this would really catch on once it was published.
You folks are sleeping!
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Postby Guest » 04/13/06 08:46 AM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
I am astounded that not a single person has commented on the Sleeve Shootout. When I first saw Sawa perform this, I had no idea where the jumbo coins were coming from and assumed this would really catch on once it was published.
You folks are sleeping!
Hope that issue is in stock. :)
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Postby Guest » 04/13/06 07:37 PM

The Submarine Coins routine is a thing of beauty...

Practical and poetic.
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Postby Guest » 04/19/06 05:27 AM

To continue with the Sawa Bibliography:

"Japanese Papercraft"
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Postby Guest » 04/19/06 05:34 AM

Originally posted by Matthew Youngbauer:
To continue with the Sawa Bibliography:

"Japanese Papercraft"
What is this item?
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Postby Guest » 04/19/06 05:38 AM

Oops. Sorry guys. What I'm just getting the hang of the forum. What I meant to say was:

"Japanese Papercraft"
"Magic Magazine"
October, 1995

I always thought this would be the bill production routine I would do, if indeed, I ever did a bill production routine.

I too loved the book. Perhaps we can see more Sawa routines in the future?
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Postby Guest » 12/01/06 06:30 AM

I was recently reorganizing my magic collection and came across several Sawa items. One of them was an Okito type coin box with a hole in the top of it. It allows the spectator to see the box full of half dollars right up to the very last second, yet when the top is removed the coins have vanished. I believe there were a very limited number of these boxes produced as mine is engraved with the number 50 on it. Can anyone tell me anything more about this box. (yes there is an additional "something" that goes with it).

Also, Richard, I guess I must be one of Dr Sawa's biggest fans as I have 2 copies of Sawa's Library of Magic, Vol 1. One of which is still sealed in the original shrinkwrap.
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