I love books.
I have collected thousands of them.
Most people that I know who amass a sizeable hoard eventually become either dealers, it being the only way to dispose of duplicate holdings, or publishers, as they unafraid of adding to the stock of paper that has built up around them.
I took the latter route, and have done so through Magicana. Publishing a book is a lot like producing a theatrical work or a film. You have to acquire the rights, work with authors and designers, and oversee the production and promotion. And books, like theatre seats, are perishable commodities; they have a shelf life dictated by popular opinion. Fortunately for us, the shelf life for magic books can be quite long. It is a niche market, as each generation of magicians eventually tries to access information – particularly the secrets – of others. It helps that most of the books we publish are limited editions.
If forced to articulate a publisher’s policy, it would be to publish books that are or were culturally significant such as A Grand Expose or How Gamblers Win; are creatively compelling such as the Essential Stewart James; or that add to the historical record such as Spins and Needles and A Cut Above.
I tend to work with many of the same people, and each time it feels as though I am in a rock’n’roll band that has regrouped for a studio album after each having worked independently as solo artists. I particularly enjoy working with- although they wouldn’t know it in the heat of a project – designers such as Gabe Fajuri, Kevin McGroarty, and Michael Albright.
Albright deserves special mention as we have worked on many projects together, two of my favourites being Revelation, Dai Vernon’s long lost opus on the Expert at the Card Table, and the forthcoming publication Slaight: Off Hand, the biography of billionaire Canadian media mogul – and lifelong magician – Allan Slaight.
Mike Caveney published Revelation, and it was Mike that brought Albright and me together. Revelation is now recognized as one of the most beautiful and stimulating books ever published in our craft. I thank Mike for the opportunity of contributing to that project. For me, Slaight: Off Hand is right up there, a book whose design captures the subject perfectly. Every time I flip through the pages, it conjures up fine memories. One can’t ask for anything more.
I also act as the publisher and editor of Magicol, A Journal of Magic History and Collectibles. Magicol has been published for over fifty years, the past four under the auspices of Magicana. Not surprisingly, the goal is to publish a journal with articles that are culturally significant, creatively compelling, and/or add to the historical record. Thanks to Michael Albright, each issue is also beautiful to behold.