Vice President's Report

Books or Video (All forms) which is better? Well, that’s kind of like asking if playing cards should be used with mentalism, if you like Chris Angel or if comedy magicians are comedians or magicians (can they be both)? There will be different opinions among all in the magic community.

Perhaps it is also somewhat generational. However, they both have their strengths. I personally like books but that is true with all things not just magic. How often have you read a book and then it was released into a movie and the movie was at the very least disappointing and at the very worse terrible?

Books allow you to use your imagination and the characters that appear on the screen are never quite the same as the ones you had imagined. The same is true with Magic. An effect you read in a book appears much different in your imagination than it does when you see it presented. How often have you read an effect in a book and passed it by and then you saw someone present it and the light bulb went on? And so we get to the strengths of both books and video.

Books allow you to make an effect your own without much effort. In other words, it is almost impossible using a book to allow yourself to take on the characteristics of the writer and therefore you invariably make it your own. Yes, the effect is the same and if you use the same “patter” that is published then it would take on some of the characteristics of the writer but it would be closer to being your own than the writers interpretation. The downside to books is that it is hard to read difficult sleights and see them in your mind.

With a book you almost must have some personal instruction from someone who has perfected a card sleight (the pass or classic force come to mind). Books also can be carried anywhere and read without any additional equipment, phone, etc.

Video allows you to see an effect immediately. No imagination is necessary as the effect is shown to you right at the first. One good thing about magic videos is that most DVD’s, online streaming, etc. starts with the effect shown and then later the secret of how it is done is revealed. I enjoy watching videos and then trying to figure out how the effect is done before I watch the explanation.

As an example of how something appears on video that may have been missed in reading it is the flop force by Shawn Farquhar. If you subscribe to “Reel Magic Magazine” he taught this recently on the “Unleashed Series” and it is a simple sleight that almost anyone can do. I completely missed the impact of the effect as I read it in the Linking Ring back in June of 2015. The downside to video is that you sometimes take on the characteristics of the person doing the effect and the explanation.

I have both in my library. I have Video tape of Karrel Fox which I treasure but I must do a lot of work to watch it (hooking up a VCR to my TV and then watching the video). However, “Mastering the Art of Magic” written by Eugene Berger is a simple stroll to my bookshelf and I am experiencing the words and thoughts of Eugene. Ultimately it is a personal choice but I would encourage you to have both video instruction as well as books at your disposal.

Dane