The Internet vs. traditional magic shops

Frank Johnston brought a recent article in Salon to our attention: The Internet makes magic disappear:

Since the late 19th century, when two German brothers named Francis and Antonio Martinka opened a conjuring store in New York, brick-and-mortar magic shops have played a central role in America’s magical culture. For more than a hundred years, these often small, dark chambers have been a gathering place where traveling illusionists and celebrated performers like Houdini, Thurston and Kellar discussed their latest creations, shielded from the pestering presence of hobbyists and the general public. More important, up until a decade ago, they were the only places where magicians could teach eager teenagers like myself the right methods to produce ashen apparitions and the more complicated tricks that inevitably follow.

But then the Internet broke that monopoly. Today, any 10-year-old kid can type “magic tricks” into Google and gain access either via YouTube or other websites to the biggest trade secrets in a matter of minutes. He can watch a video or buy an expensive apparatus without leaving his house, seeing a live demonstration or talking to another human being.

As a result, magic stores are slowly vanishing across America. With their gradual disappearance, as Jamy Ian Swiss — a leading card-expert and magic historian recognized for his brilliant technique and for his outspoken column in Genii, a conjuring magazine — has argued, one of the foundations of this ancient art form is disappearing.

If the article tells us anything, it is that it is now more important than ever to support our local magic shops. Read the rest of the article at Salon.

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