In buying books, like in all other purchases, I make wrong decisions now and then. But fate somehow equalizes things for the audacious. Occasionally, I stumbled on some gems that I still keep reverently in my book cabinet.

I spent some good money with the buy-a-magic-book-on-the-spot strategy. When I was in college, I blew a month’s allowance on Henry Hay’s The Amateur Magician’s Handbook. Looking back to what I did, I thank myself today for one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my whole life.

I don’t know the economics behind the pricing, but I have observed that local bookstores’ price tags on magic books are sometimes lower than what online stores like quote.

Also, I notice that I stumbled upon most of my bookstore-bought magic books in provincial bookstores. Only two books among my collections were bought at a National Bookstore branch in Metro Manila. Again, I’m not sure what dynamics are at work behind this phenomenon.

Here’s a list of the books I bought from local bookstores long before or online magic shops came into the scene. I bought these over a period of many years, starting from high school to when I was already working in a bank during the pre-Internet era. I’m listing these books so readers can form a picture of how a strategy of browsing bookstores (especially small ones in the provinces) may turn up some gems.

The Classic Secrets of Magic, by Bruce Elliot, St. Paul’s Bookstore, Cebu City
The Big Book of Magic by Patrick Page, St. Paul’s Bookstore, Cebu City
Professional Magic for Amateurs by Walter B. Gibson, St. Paul’s Bookstore, Cebu City
John Scarne’s Magic Tricks by John Scarne, St. Paul’s Bookstore, Cebu City
John Scarne on Cards by John Scarne, St. Paul’s Bookstore, Cebu City
Houdini’s Escapes by Walter Gibson, St. Paul’s Bookstore, Cebu City
Self-Working Handkerchief Magic by Karl Fulves, I forgot where I bought this.
Self-Working Table Magic by Karl Fulves, I forgot where I bought this.
Handkerchief Magic by Jean Hugard, from a small bookstore in Iligan City
More Card Manipulations by Jean Hugard, from a small bookstore in Iligan City
Magic as a Hobby by Bruce Elliot, a gift from my father, bought somewhere in Manila
The Royal Road to Card Magic, Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue, National Bookstore, Harrison Plaza
Encyclopedia of Card Tricks by Jean Hugard, National Bookstore, Harrison Plaza
Magic Step by Step by Ian Adair, a bookstore somewhere in Cebu City

And, of course, the gem of the gems—-The Amateur Magician’s Handbook, which I bought in a small store in Cebu City that sold comics, Liwayway and Bisaya magazines. It lay inside a glass cabinet among other paperbacks, with no one giving it a second glance.

I plunked down my month’s allowance on this book and lived like a pauper and hunger-striker for one month. But the book taught me the Chinese Linking Rings and the Ring on Stick routine that Indian shamans performed on the streets of Calcutta long before David Blaine burst into the scene. I’ve not seen today any magician doing the trick anymore. That reminds me to resurrect the trick from my cabinet, especially after discovering lately that Bob Cassidy has used this trick in his shows for corporate audiences.

Spend time and money tracking those magic books at local bookstores and even in used-book stores like SALE and Chapters and Pages. The time and money you will spend hunting those books down could be good investments, depending of course on how you use the books to develop your knowledge and skills in magic.

Stay magical,


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