Bill McFadden wrote
As my sixth grade nun used to say, "Joke 'em if they can't take a f***!"
Wow, that sixth grader sure made an early career decision! :D
Speaking as one who has gained a little (emphasis on little) experience in publishing, I can vouch for how time consuming it is, and (for me) how its not a very profitable venture. Its a great feeling to have someone write and thank me for the effort, because thats about the only external reward there is. But I do it for fun, not to put bread on the table, so thats a little different and much less stressful than the businesses of professional magic publishers.
Is it just me, or have others here observed that the message is often seemingly tied to the messenger and/or person being discussed, and processed and responded to accordingly?
Here we have a guy who has vociferously protested the widespread public availability for rental of a relatively expensive (for one trick, at least) DVD which explains an apparently pretty nifty magic trick, largely because (I gather) he bought the DVD thinking that it would only be available to other magicians through the typical distribution channels. He has also assumed that Zip.ca is offering the DVD for rental with the blessing of Criss Angel, which may or may not be true and thats a pretty important part of this discussion, it seems.
There appear to be two primary issues here (besides the interesting sidebar about the difficulty of making a living by publishing magic books): (1) exposure and (2) exclusivity. The pros and cons of exposure have been debated here and elsewhere ad nauseum
. So theres not much to say on that topic, except to add that excusing Criss Angels assumed actions because they are within his legal rights has absolutely nothing to do with the question of what he ought
to do vis--vis the mores of magic.
By the exclusivity issue, Im referring to the exclusivity expectations that a magician-purchaser might have when buying a DVD or book which explains tricks and in this case, apparently good ones at that. I could be wrong on this, but I think its fair to say that most magicians who purchase how-to books or DVDs published outside of the mainstream (i.e., published by dedicated magic publishers such as Kaufman, Hermetic Press, L&L, etc., and not major publishing houses) expect that such books/DVDs are not going to be advertised and actively
made available to the general public. In other words, these purchasers expect that the book/DVD in question is limited in distribution to magi only its exclusive to the magic community.**
Taking it one step further, even within our tiny magic community, there is exclusivity, as evidenced by extremely limited edition publications. So, for example, if an edition of 100 copies is published, then the buyers expectation is that only 100 magicians can have access to the secrets within. The same idea applies when a publisher claims that a publication will not be reprinted (although, as we know, sometimes this no reprint promise is broken). There are hundreds of examples of publications which have been issued over the decades which have just such an appeal: exclusivity. So it seems to me that, whether or not its often discussed or made an express part of advertising, the concept of exclusivity is a very real element of the magic psyche and economy.
To some, this concept of exclusivity translates to value for the dollar: theyre willing to pay more if they think that few others will have access to this or that secret. And for a professional, exclusivity is sometimes crucial and worth paying a lot of money for. That was one of Davids points, if I understood him correctly.
So, to the extent that the likes of pierredan and John Wilson are in effect saying, hey, we expected that distribution would be limited to magi only, it apparently isnt, and were disappointed about that because we paid a lot of money for that single secret, after whatever perceived hyperbole has been stripped away, dont these guys have a point here? Sure, the issue of exclusivity expectation can be debated: is it realistic? is it reasonable? Etc. But can it be effectively dismissed with such facile reasoning as free trade in action, Criss Angel can do with it as he pleases, and youre just upset because something cool cant be just yours?
How would people feel if a magic publisher issued a killer book (like Robert Harbins classic) in a very limited edition of 150 copies, charged $500 per copy because it was worth it (and the buyers thought so too, because the edition quickly sold out), and then turned around 6 months later and sold a library edition on the cheap to all the public libraries in the U.S.? This example is admittedly extreme. But it makes the essential point, and the only difference between the foregoing hypothetical and the Criss Angel DVD situation is one of degree assuming he sanctioned the sales to Zip.ca. So would we who defend Angels right to sell and distribute the DVD to anyone he likes and who chalk this episode up as a tempest in a teapot, etc., respond the same way to this hypothetical? I tend to think the response might be very different.
**Yes, of course, a resourceful layman who really
wants to get his hands on a certain magi-only book or DVD can do it, but I suspect such instances are fairly rare, and theyre not germane to this point anyway.