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Daniel J. Ferrara Jr.
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Regular user
Long Island, New York
182 Posts

Profile of Daniel J. Ferrara Jr.
There are so many books, videos, and DVD's out there that it is hard for someone new to magic to decide what to buy.

My question is, as a beginner Magician, what are you looking for and how much would you spend. Are you intrested mainly in buying "trick decks" or learning sleight of hand to perform with a regular deck? Or maybe you are interested in DVD's that teach magic. Whatever it is, how much are you willing to spend and what do you consider a good value?
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Whitehouse Texas
225 Posts

Profile of MOTO42
As a rank newbie I was looking to spend under $20 for any book I bought. Books seem to be the best value for your money. The first book I purchased was Bill Tar's "Now You See It, Now You Don't"

The Amateur Magician's Handbook would have been a great value at list-price. I scored it at a used book-store for $9.99

I'm interested in sleights and getting a good /variety/ of effects. That's mostly what I look for when making a purchase. Usually a book.

The only "one trick" purchase I've made was Cup-Oodles, for sheer novelty value.
"One man's miracle is another man's warm-up"
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Elite user
Batavia, Ohio
448 Posts

Profile of ChrisG
I started with books. Tarbell, Wilsons Complete course in Magic etc. Then as I was drawn to silk Rices' books were a natural progression along with some of Duane Laflin's books. The price ranges from $5.00 lecture notes to $45.00 books.

I have aquired DVD's and VHS tapes on specific items such as palmos, silk fountains and many others. I like these for learning sleight of hand and set up.

As far as the price goes I try to find things as inexpensive as possible while not letting price scare me away. If it is a routine that I really like then I spend the money. With that said I have looked at, watched, researched, thought about, dreamed about etc. ect.!!! long before reaching for my wallet.

that's my two cents worth.

"Consensus is the negation of Leadership"

M. Thatcher
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Loyal user
246 Posts

Profile of Curmudgeon
I am also pretty new and I started out with books from the library and once those were used up I went out and bought Mark Wilson and some Walter Gibson books. I have also bought some dvds and am trying my best to learn sleights so I can use a regular deck and not use the self working tricks that I have learned. Wanted to mention that John Scarne's Scarne on Card Tricks is a very good book to own as well.
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Turlock, CA
73 Posts

Profile of magical65stang
As being some what new to magic I found that books give you more information than dvd's, however if you are new to magic you need to learn how to perform too. Books definitely lack the ability to teach you how to perform. Dvd's will also show you exactly how to execute a hold, palm, or move. It also depends on whether you learn better from reading or a visual aid. I bought too many gimmicks and now use almost none of them, but I learned how to perform using so many self-working gimmicks. I like Dvd's but if I need to learn something I can always find it in a book. If it is cards then Card College, if it is coins then Bobo's Modern Coin Magic. Either way it is up to your best way of learning and your pocketbook. Good luck!
"I'm not a liar, you just don't see the truth."
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St. Louis
59 Posts

Profile of espalding
Like most beginners, I probably spent too much money initially trying to get everything that looked interesting. It took me a while to figure out tht I needed to find items (whether books or DVDs) that fit my style. Having said that, I have no regrets at all about buying the "Royal Road to Card Magic" or "Modern Coin Magic". Both have a wealth of info for that a beginner can grasp, and both can be found for under $10.

There's other topics on buying gimmicks vs. using sleight of hand, but I think the question is somewhat irrelevant as long as the trick fits into the routine you're trying to build. I use a mix of both in the shows I've done.

As far as DVDs, I think magical65stang had a good point in saying DVDs show you the performance as well as the trick. I've found Daryl's Fooler Doolers DVD to be great instruction on audience interaction and presentation. That's one set of DVDs where watching the performance was as fun as the explanations. Michael Ammar's Easy to Master Card Miracles are really good for the beginner too.

Emily Belleranti
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Tucson, Arizona
349 Posts

Profile of Emily Belleranti
I did start out by buying gimmicks, "trick decks," etc. But I guess I was lucky; I quickly moved on from there and realized that I wanted to perform sleight of hand magic.

I do use gaffs in my magic, but I've moved away from having to rely on them and there is a lot that I can do without them.

Most of my magic-related purchases are books. I do own a few DVDs, as that medium of teaching certainly has some advantages. But I do prefer learning from books.

I am only a kid so my funds for magic are greatly limited, but I am willing to spend quite a bit of money if I feel something is truly worth it.
"If you achieve success, you will get applause, and if you get applause, you will hear it. My advice to you concerning applause is this: Enjoy it, but never quite believe it."

-Robert Montgomery
Peter Marucci
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Inner circle
5389 Posts

Profile of Peter Marucci
Magical65stang writes: "Books definately lack the ability to teach you how to perform."

Do you mean, then, that everyone who learned prior to the advent of tapes and DVDs couldn't perform?

That would include Houdini, Blackstone, Maskelyne, Devant, Tommy Cooper, Ballantine, Vernon, and --yes -- even David Copperfield.

Oh, and I almost forgot: Me.

Tom Jorgenson
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Profile of Tom Jorgenson
One of the better investments is to simply buy several of the Magic Dealer's catalogues: Hank Lee's and Abbott's both have humongous catalogues, and are probably about $15 these for the range of effects that are out there, the range of effects possible to buy.

Next, you would carefully read the descriptions of similar tricks to identify the various principles involved. Dealer items are worded carefully to tell you the advantages of various effects (and sometimes the advantages come with severe, limiting, drawbacks) By comparing descriptions, you can determine the methods, and thereby increasing your magic knowledge.

You should decide yor own limitations: Tricks seem to be Openers (previous setups for the trick that need to be done right away), contain sleights in the method (if you DON'T want sleights, look for the disclaimer 'no skill' in the blurb.)or they may contain Gimmicks and gaffs that you may or may not wish to deal with.

Magician A may want to learn an effect using sleights, and Magician B may hate sleights and prefer a gaffed item. Are there limiting angles involved with yor closeup trick, or stage trick? Sometimes a great trick can be useless to you because of angles or other limitations. Reading the catalogs (and online catalogs)will give you a greater picture of the breadth of the field of magic.

Becoming familiar with the field is a long and pleasant journey. Just remember that Ebay was created JUST for us magicians to recoup some of the loot misspent on tricks we decided we no longer needed, couldn't perform,or were just plain unusable. You'll get a nice little pile of them, don't be concerned. It is the effects and tricks that you DO use that are of importance.

For folks reletively new to magic, who wish to start learing the principles usually involved in magic...a book called "The Trick Brain" (Fitzgee) is a revelation, as it lays out all the principle of magic in a clear and creative way.

Best regards,

or decided were
We dance an invisible dance to music they cannot hear.
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Special user
Lehi, UT, USA
643 Posts

Profile of what
"Mark Wilsons Complete Course in Magic" book caught my eye a few years ago when I was browsing through a bookstore. I needed something to teach the cub scouts to perform, but ended up finding a hobby to sink up all of my spare time. I have more books and DVD's now, but to get started, I only needed 1 book for $20, some cards, and some common items from around my home.
Magic is fun!!!
kihei kid
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Inner circle
Dog House
1039 Posts

Profile of kihei kid
I have always been on the other side of the fence on this issue, I like the idea of buying a few self-working effects such as scotch and soda, stripper deck, or Karl Fulves self working card trick type books which can be had or 5 bucks.

Then practice over and over until it looks real good then go perform for family and friends after some time work your way up to strangers. At this point you will know whether or not you like the art of magic, if you find you do then go out and get books and DVD’s and the such.

If not, you did not end up spending a lot of time and money now you can turn around and sell the few items you did purchase and in the end the worst that can happen is you will walk away with insight to the art.
In loving memory of Hughie Thomasson 1952-2007.

You brought something beautiful to this world, you touched my heart, my soul and my life. You will be greatly missed.

Until we meet again “my old friend”.
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244 Posts

Profile of Aperazor
After making all the magic mistakes again when returning to the art of magic here is what I would do if I could start again.

I would buy a lower priced set of billiard balls (multiplying golf balls can be found for under $8), go to Walmart and get a couple decks of Bicycle cards and some rope, stop at the bank and get some silver dollars and halfs, then to a book store (Borders) for Mark Wilson's book under $20, Bobo's coin book (under $10) and the Royal card book (also under $10).

For under $100 you would have many months (years?) worth of routines to practice and get a feel for performing, manipulation, developing skills as well as patter to go with them etc...

With some of the glitzy tricks that are good, they are also basically mechanical and after you do them a couple times they go in the case, if you get bored with the items I mentioned....then magic is just probably not for you.

As with any hobby, art or business the advice that stays the same and is tried and true is that you need to have a good foundation to build on.

Best of luck
Hope this is of some value to you.
Nick Zender
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