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TeddyBoy
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Has anyone here ever read a negative review of a magic book? I have not, and it just hit me that without such negative reviews how one can give any positive review the credibility it may deserve. In other words, I cannot believe that all magic books, like all everything else in life, are really good or "must haves". This is important to me as someone who wants good learning experiences, but is inundated by a constant torrent of allegedly good to excellent book reviews; often by people I never heard of. I don't know where to put my limited funds and even more limited time and effort. If I, like many of us, were honest, we would acknowledge that we already have more than enough sources of material to create a full career of effects.

Does anyone else wonder about the credibility of magic reviews? How do you deal with it?
So many sleights...so little time.
"Slow...deliberate...natural." Bill Tarr

Cheers,
Teddy
Wravyn
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Check this out by Erudite Magic
https://youtu.be/R5BxFc7WWug
jkr
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Quote:
On Jan 22, 2022, TeddyBoy wrote:
Has anyone here ever read a negative review of a magic book? I have not, and it just hit me that without such negative reviews how one can give any positive review the credibility it may deserve. In other words, I cannot believe that all magic books, like all everything else in life, are really good or "must haves". This is important to me as someone who wants good learning experiences, but is inundated by a constant torrent of allegedly good to excellent book reviews; often by people I never heard of. I don't know where to put my limited funds and even more limited time and effort. If I, like many of us, were honest, we would acknowledge that we already have more than enough sources of material to create a full career of effects.

Does anyone else wonder about the credibility of magic reviews? How do you deal with it?


I have wondered the same thing myself. Personal preference alone should cause some people not to care for certain books.
TeddyBoy
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Thanks Wravyn, this guy looks like he has some interesting stuff and will give him a look. I have also just come across a website by Jeff Stone, at https://magicreviewed.com/reviews/. His focus is mainly more current offerings rather than classics. Importantly, on 5-star reviewing basis he gives his share of 1, 2 and 3 stars. On DVDs he even reviews each episode on 1-5 stars.
So many sleights...so little time.
"Slow...deliberate...natural." Bill Tarr

Cheers,
Teddy
dustrod
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EndersGame
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Writing a review takes considerable time. Most reviewers only want to spend time writing about something they actually enjoyed, are enthusiastic about, and can recommend. That's why by far the majority of written reviews are positive.

Very few people want to spend hours of their time writing a review about something they really disliked. I'm an active reviewer, and I certainly don't want to do that. If I really didn't like something, I'm not going to waste my time even writing about it. I don't want to think about it anymore, and prefer to go on to something else.

If you are looking for negative reviews, you are more likely to find them on places like Penguin Magic or Amazon, where people write very brief reviews. Then you'll see them all, both positive and negative. The same is true of threads here on The Magic Café, where people give their impressions on the latest and greatest.
TeddyBoy
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Thanks for your response EndersGame. I think you really explained why it is difficult to accept constant positive reviews--because reviewers, understandably, don't like reading or watching stuff they don't think is of high quality. But the result is that the public does not learn what lower quality offerings are out there and may not be worth one's time. Truly, without any disrespect, from what you say it appears that reviewers' loyalty is directed more to themselves than the public they are trying to influence and presumably serve. Your in depth and well-written reviews are a service to the magic community. I just wish that sometimes you didn't like something so I would know that your substantial critical faculties are working for all of us.

Reviewing is hard. I tried to review only one book at the Café, Mr. Jennings Takes It Easy. It took a LONG time so I did it in installments. Admittedly, I am not certain either how good it was or how useful to members here. But I think I do understand your point about the work that goes into a proper review.
So many sleights...so little time.
"Slow...deliberate...natural." Bill Tarr

Cheers,
Teddy
EndersGame
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Fair comments TeddyBoy. I guess it can also depend on why people are reviewing. Part of my motivation is to get good information out there, and to help out other magicians (both consumers and creators). But I don't do these reviews professionally, and in the end it's just a hobby that I do in my free time for the love of it. So I do have to choose what to focus on. I do love writing, and I especially like writing about the things I enjoy (e.g. like card magic and playing cards). And given the level of detail I typically include in my reviews, obviously I prefer to spend time writing about things I can be enthusiastic about, and actually like.

I also try to judge products in the best light possible. If something isn't suitable for a pro magician, perhaps it is ideal for an amateur or beginner. So I try to take into consideration the target audience, and the different situations in which something might be used. And I also try to cover those things in the review, so that potential buyers are aware of all the considerations they should be thinking about. That's more helpful to readers than me just giving a blanket `yes' or `no'.

The same is true with my reviews of board games, the vast majority of which are all positive. That's because I do research in advance of getting something, in order to filter out the mediocre, so I don't even end up with bad games in the first place. And in cases where a board game does turn out to be lousy, then I'll play it a couple of times - but at that point I really don't want to spend more time playing it, thinking about it, or writing about it. If a game is mediocre, I'll mention both the positives and negatives (see this example). Even so, there have been a few cases where I have given a genuinely bad game a outright negative review (see this example).

Much the same is often true of magic products. If I know something is merely average, I'm not likely to go out and get it in the first place, or even want to review it. So most of the stuff I get is good to begin with. And if a product is mediocre, I will try to be honest about that, and highlight both the weaknesses and positives (see this example).

Although it's quite rare, I have written negative reviews of magic products too. Here's an example I can point you to: a negative review I wrote about the Ultimate Gaff Deck.
TeddyBoy
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EG, your passion is clearly evident. I wish I could find something that would be so engrossing to me. I like card magic, but quality sleight of hand is too difficult for me to actually allow myself to love it. Maybe if I had more time, but for now I am a 24/7 caregiver to my poor wife with Parkinson's, so my time and energies are limited.

However, your reviews are so in depth it is clear that you love writing about magic...maybe just writing in general. Of course, your comments about wanting to positively inform the community about quality products makes perfect sense. In part, my perspective is driven by the fact that I have what I call an "acquisition disorder," or AD. When members write about how great something is or how a book is a "must have" I feel a need to get it, although I have enough sources of card conjuring to last me a lifetime - and that includes the possibility of being reincarnated as a card conjurer. I do not even have the time to thoroughly read some of the books I have or view some of my DVDs.
Therefore, having my attention be diverted once in a while by a critical review would be a relief to me. This is the basis behind my original posting.
So many sleights...so little time.
"Slow...deliberate...natural." Bill Tarr

Cheers,
Teddy
landmark
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Totally agree with EG about reviewers who do it for a hobby--life is too short to spend it writing about things you don't like. The natural inclination is to want to share whatever good news you found and leave the rest aside.

On the other hand, professional reviewers tend to evaluate whatever comes their way for the month, and that may turn out to be positive or negative. So if you're looking for a larger range of opinion, I would suggest the reviews in Genii or MUM or one of the other magazines. Some professional magic reviewers, like some professional movie reviewers, seek to make a name for themselves by reveling in negative reviews. It's one of the easiest ways to get attention as a reviewer. It's not as prevalent however as in the film world because magic is a much smaller community, and a negative review has the potential to hurt feelings in a way that can rebound back to the reviewer.
EndersGame
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David Regal's reviews over on Reel Magic Magazine are excellent. He covers whatever is hitting the market, and has both positive and negative things to say.

Check their free issue for an example.
jstone
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Don't forget about https://mylovelyassistant.com/
TeddyBoy
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Looks like an interesting website. Thanks Jeff.
So many sleights...so little time.
"Slow...deliberate...natural." Bill Tarr

Cheers,
Teddy
Wravyn
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On Jan 31, 2022, jstone wrote:
Don't forget about https://mylovelyassistant.com/

Are they still active?
EndersGame
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Seems inactive to me.

The latest review posted there is from over a year ago, January 2021.
jstone
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That’s Jan 21st of this year. Smile
EndersGame
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Quote:
On Feb 3, 2022, jstone wrote:
That’s Jan 21st of this year. Smile

You're right, it is incorrectly listed as "Jan 21" on the main review page.

But prior to that there were only 3 reviews in 2021, and the one prior to that was August 2020.

So their output has definitely dropped off to just a trickle in the last 18 months.
jstone
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It’s not incorrectly listed. The year is not present. That’s the month and the day. The year is not shown for reviews of the current year. Also, I’m sending out a batch of products to my reviewers as we speak, so the rere will be more reviews coming soon.
dawnzubair
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Jeff Stone
Unbiased Magic Review

These 2 churn out most reviews which are not necessarily positive and I tend to agree with them most of the time. I regretted buying a few books based on recommendations from other reviewers before I came across Unbiased Magic Review. My feelings about the books were very accurately reflected in the reviews when I came across them later.
jstone
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Quote:
Jeff Stone
Unbiased Magic Review

These 2 churn out most reviews which are not necessarily positive and I tend to agree with them most of the time. I regretted buying a few books based on recommendations from other reviewers before I came across Unbiased Magic Review. My feelings about the books were very accurately reflected in the reviews when I came across them later.


Thank you! I hope my reviews have saved you some bucks. Things are happening behind the scenes with Magic Reviewed (my review site), and My Lovely Assistant (my team of reviewers).

Thanks!
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