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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » All Mentalism is now overpriced (100 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Martin Pulman
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Once upon a time, Mentalism was a rare beast. Very few people performed Mentalism and those that did tended to do so in a cabaret or stage setting. New effects and books were very rare. You would be lucky if you saw more than a handful of new books every year. There was a rationale, therefore, to the high pricing of mentalism products. You were paying for rare and exclusive knowledge. And that knowledge would most likely be applied to paying shows.

Today, Mentalism is everywhere; from TV talent shows to table-hopping magicians to amateur magicians showing tricks to friends and family. Self published ebooks and effects flood the market. A new release seems to appear every couple of hours. This is either a good thing or a bad thing -depending on your point of view (I think it has been disastrous for Mentalism as a serious stage art). But no one could argue that Mentalism hasn't become immeasurably more popular and mainstream in the last twenty years.

The one thing that hasn't changed is the price of the effects. Despite Mentalism no longer being a rare and exclusive art, the products are still priced as if they are. Creators of coin and card magic release physical props -specially printed cards, specially engineered coins, boxes etc -for a fraction of the price that Mentalism creators charge for their self-published books and ebooks ( this despite the majority of modern mentalism effects being tiny variations on propless effects that are almost never suitable for stage or cabaret performances, so they can no longer even claim to have "straight into the act" value). When physical props are released for mentalists they are often shoddily made compared to their magical counterparts -a recent book test had the wrong title on the cover and a completely anachronistic word as a !@#$* word. Clearly the most basic research and testing hadn't taken place.

Someone elsewhere described the price of mentalism releases as a 'scam'. I might not use that language, but I understood what they meant. Isn't it time that the pricing of Mentalism books and effects was brought into line with other mainstream magic products, as Mentalism has become firmly part of the mainstream? There is surely no longer an excuse for exclusive pricing on a product that is no longer exclusive.
IAIN
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How much is too much?
Mindpro
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Great insight and yet very sad indeed for the art of mentalism. This is the exact effect of trivialization of mentalism by magicians. Mentalism hasn't gone mainstream, mental magic has and it has greatly damaged the beautiful stage art of mentalism.
innercirclewannabe
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I think it is a much wider point that the points you've made. You're right about a lot of it in my opinion but that doesn't negate the fact that there are no regulations on price points for any of these releases. Coupled with that you get the childish cliches endorsing the c&&p and then the fanboy brigade are only too willing to attack dare someone say it wasn't as good as the blurb read. I could write a lot more but that won't change anything anytime soon.

Stick with the professionals who've been there, done that. The ones who deliver on time and actually use the ideas/products in their own shows for a paying audience and not for a magic club.
Tá sé ach cleas má dhéanann tú sé cuma mhaith ar cheann.
Martin Pulman
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Quote:
On Aug 11, 2019, IAIN wrote:
How much is too much?


It is too much when it is out of line with the pricing of similar products ie: other mainstream magic effects like card tricks and coin magic. Mentalism is no longer an exclusive art so there is no justification for charging exclusive prices.

The pricing of your book test got it exactly right, I thought.
IAIN
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Personally, it's purely about content. Two books both for 40quid. One is mediocre and the other has a single routine that adds real value and maybe even lands a booking because a person loved it so much.

If a gig is 250-400 then it's amazing value. For me it's hard to judge.

As for my book test (thank you), however, that was 3 months of work, my real life job is as a designer and if I charged myself the going rate for the work involved, the book would cost more.

Not sure what the going rate would be to reformat, then learn to write in the style used and then make it flow etc.

It's a difficult line in my opinion.

the rolling stones charge more for a ticket than say rival sons (who are amazing) are both rock groups and play some of the same places too...

So maybe however you define that, I think that comes into play as well...whether it should is another matter I guess?

The quality of content should factor into that in my opinion.
Martin Pulman
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Iain,

Everything you say holds true -in fact, far more so - for people manufacturing special coins or printing special decks or making gimmicked wooden boxes.

The point you have yet to address is the point I am making. Mentalism releases continue to be priced at a premium based on a long vanished tradition of mentalism effects being a rare commodity. That tradition has vanished. The premium pricing should vanish with it.
IAIN
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I guess I've never seen it as a rare commodity personally... only the value in the routines and how they may elevate your performance and therefore fee...Just my view...
Mindpro
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I think part of the problem is many here today in "mentalism" don't know or remember how or what it was previously. This today is their norm and business as usual to them. It is not anything unique or special which deserves premium pricing. You must remember, premium pricing was there for a reason - to keep it out of the hands of the typical magician. How many of the old releases would specifically say "do not share this with magicians" or "help keep this out of the hands of magicians." I remember those days well. Hence the premium price and not mass-release of such content.

And btw, it was much better quality material and content, that only those serious about mentalism would be willing to pay for. This justified the price - quality and scarcity.
Martin Pulman
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Quote:
On Aug 11, 2019, Mindpro wrote:
I think part of the problem is many here today in "mentalism" don't know or remember how or what it was previously. This today is their norm and business as usual to them. It is not anything unique or special which deserves premium pricing. You must remember, premium pricing was there for a reason - to keep it out of the hands of the typical magician. How many of the old releases would specifically say "do not share this with magicians" or "help keep this out of the hands of magicians." I remember those days well. Hence the premium price and not mass-release of such content.

And btw, it was much better quality material and content, that only those serious about mentalism would be willing to pay for. This justified the price - quality and scarcity.


That pretty much sums it up, Mindpro. With the added sadness that anything genuinely good is immediately exposed by being performed on TV talent shows or that terrible Fool Us programme.
TEB3
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About fifteen years ago, my good friend Larry Becker and I had a indepth conversation about pricing effects and books. In short, if anything is special be it written or crafted and some real time and thought was involved creating it, then put a high enough price to make it worth your while to release it. Then start work on the next thing because in about 6 months someone will have ripped you off with a new "improved" version so your cash flow will come to a screaming halt. I know Bob Cassidy also felt this way and I do where the books I've authored are concerned.

I'm currently putting together a list of books in my collection that I'll make available for sale in the near future. But they are real, not scanned pdf knock offs. Besides on things like The Legendary Scroll of Maskelyn ye Mage would be almost impossible to knock-off. Heck, Tony only did less than 40. Each hand silk screened, assembled, etc. So, you now have a "one page book" that measures thirteen feet, three inches when un-rolled. And I can hardly wait to hear the screams, but where is another one for sale that has been stored under proper conditions and only unrolled four times? Or the true first edition of The Art Of Mentalism by Robert E. Cassidy. Yes, blue stock cover, black comb bound, and only natural aging . Plus autographed by Bob and given to me by him in 1983. Even Bob told me he only thought he had a couple of hundred copies printed.

Now, start figuring out what is your own definition of value. The late Stanley Marcus of Neiman-Marcus fame had a great saying he passed to me; "Value is the difference between the cost of the goods and perception!"

TEB3/Traveler/Lary
j100taylor
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'Architect of the Mind'. Several penguin lectures. 'Sybil'. Three of the top of my head that are reasonably priced and excellent. Although I agree in general it's the 'all' I disagree with.
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Martin Pulman
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Quote:
On Aug 11, 2019, j100taylor wrote:
'Architect of the Mind'. Several penguin lectures. 'Sybil'. Three of the top of my head that are reasonably priced and excellent. Although I agree in general it's the 'all' I disagree with.


Poor phrasing on my behalf. My intent was to say that Mentalism as a category of the magical arts is now overpriced, compared to the other categories. I would agree that several Penguin Mentalism lectures are good value, but they are examples of mentalism being put in the exact same price bracket as the other magical arts- which is what I think should be the case. I haven't read Drew Backenstoss's book but his lecture was a delight as it was strictly classic stage Mentalism. Sybil I don't consider to be mentalism in the sense we are discussing it here.
j100taylor
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Yes I generally agree with what you are saying
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the Sponge
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Perhaps the opposite is true? Regular magic is underpriced. As you say, some of the effects and gaffs are amazing. Maybe regular magic should up their prices to match mentalism?

s
Philemon Vanderbeck
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If anyone can buy an effect (whether magic or mentalism) and then subsequently expose it on YouTube, then it means that it was sold far too cheaply.
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
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funsway
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Thomas Henry's labor of love, "Pocket Guide to Cartomancy" allows for dozens of Mentalism effects or an entire show.

The price was right - free. And the support materials and performance ideas keep growing.

When it is sold it will be very inexpensive. Eliminate the word "all" from the thread title.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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mindmagic
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Another exception - Elliott Bresler's Switchcraft. Best value in magic.

Barry
IAIN
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Switchcraft is highly underpriced...

Too much mentalism is sold at pocket money prices...and it's that which devalues what we do. Available to anyone for the price of a burger and a drink...

It's why so few have read it all, and why so many say "I've bought it, never gotten round to reading it...."
Martin Pulman
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Quote:
On Aug 12, 2019, IAIN wrote:
Switchcraft is highly underpriced...

Too much mentalism is sold at pocket money prices...and it's that which devalues what we do. Available to anyone for the price of a burger and a drink...



Too much Mentalism. Period.
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