Someone just pointed out this posting, and it was interesting to read the various opinions and speculation.
I suspect that most don't really want the full story behind any of these books. I've already learned how much fun it is to speculate: I still have the rope burns around my neck from when it was announced that I was going to write Hiding the Elephant. Dear, dear.
There wasn't any "fast talking" involved on my part. It was the publisher's idea to reprint Alan's book, not mine. I thought long and hard about it, and it was a tough decision. The publisher is interested in developing a line of "standards" in the field of magic. It was immensely flattering to me and to Alan's material. The book has been out of print for some time now, and I could only think of what impact a book like this might have had on me when I was growing up in magic. It's true that Alan's material is all at least 30 years old, but it's been beautifully revivied and perfected by a number of current performers. If someone sincerely interested in magic gets a hold of this book and reads a billiard ball routine right next to a discussion of routining an act, or designing an illusion, I think that it might be an inspiration.
When I was a kid, I read books about "vaudeville" performers, who had worked 40 or 50 years before that time. Alan was working in nightclubs and coffee houses, 40 or 50 years ago.
I suppose I don't need to list the books -- all near and dear to our hearts -- that were sold to the public, not to magicians. There's been a long tradition of this, as we're all aware.
In many ways, I'm the one most affected by these "exposures for the public," as it affects my business. There's no question, in my mind, of the "damage" it will cause to the precious art of magic. I just look back at previous historical examples, starting with Modern Magic, following through Secrets of My Magic, Royal Road to Magic, The Magic of John Mulholland. . .
As for Alan's book being a failure and then being remaindered for $5.95 -- well, that's a happy thought. It won't happen, because this book is not being produced to be a best seller. It's being printed by Carroll and Graf with the same intention as Dover books, to serve as a sort of text. For the "magic" shelves, not the "bestseller" shelves.
As for the Barnes and Noble edition of Hiding the Elephant, it is not remaindered, it is being published by B&N in a less expensive edition. I was flattered that it was chosen for this new edition.
This all reminds me of a discussion I had with Pat Page years ago. (He also had rope burns for publishing a book for the public that had excellent magic in it! Magicians were outraged!) Pat's theory is that we all scan a row of books and see the word "MAGIC" on the spine and it jumps out at us. We think that it jumps out at everyone. But no, the fellow next to you is looking for the word, "COIN COLLECTING," or "FERRARRIS" or "HOME IMPROVEMENTS." We all tend to obsess about the availability of these books.
It's been a real education writing for the public as well as magicians, and being involved in material that appeals to both without being demeaning or overly-technical.
Along these lines, I'm certainly grateful for the interest in The Conjuring Anthology, and it's been an exciting book to assemble -- for magicians.
As for those who insist on the rope -- well, that's your prerogative.