28 November 2021

[Guest post] BLAH! BLAH! BLAH!

The following is a guest post from an author who wishes to be known as The Magic Demon.



Random rants and/or raves by readers

Today's Guest Fulminator: The Magic Demon
Exclusive to Canada's Magic

Whatever happened to printed instructions when you bought your magic? I miss them!

With printed instructions on paper you always had something tangible to immediately refer to. You could read them, put them down, practice some, reread the instructions, put them down, practice some more and so on. You could add notes, add reminders to yourself, and even get them personally autographed at conventions by the inventors.  

Printed instructions - some with illustrations, some without -  would always be there to read today, tomorrow and into the foreseeable future. You didn't need any extra devices, technology or encumbrances to access them - just reading glasses, occasionally.

Then, along came video-instructions on a DVD. These often accompanied printed instructions and sometimes didn't. These were fine too if you had a suitable player and if it was convenient to use it. Some instructions on video were rudimentary and amateurish; eventually they got more sophisticated and professional.  

But the point is, both forms of instruction were in tangible physical forms that you could access at any time on your own and wouldn't accidently or deliberately disappear on you.

More recently, many tricks no longer seem to come with any form of physical instruction at all. I mean the more expensive ones too.

All you get are some props, frequently requiring further extensive DIY,  and a link to an on-line video.

What a rip-off!

A lot of the time, in my experience, the links seem to be expired or faulty or the website is down, or else my connectivity to the internet is down, or else my digital device is acting wonky or else there are technical issues at their end resulting in various 404-y error codes. Or else I'm not able to access my laptop or tablet or smartphone - or - just simply prefer not to spend even more time on them than I have already for work. Whatever.

But even when the links work I still feel the instructions at the other end could evaporate in a flash. And sometimes they do. Especially instructions for older effects no longer being aggressively marketed by their manufacturers.

How often, by contrast, did printed instructions work? Gosh - 100% of the time!

And DVDs? OK, so not everybody owns a player anymore. But guess what? Plenty of us still do. Well-treated DVDs should last a hundred years.

So how much are manufacturers saving? (1) Not providing printed basic instructions? Maybe a few cents per unit. (2) Not supplying a physical DVD? More but not much more, assuming they'd already shot something for on-line. Are they now so desperate that saving even a few cents per unit is necessary for them to survive? I honestly don't know.

If the absence of physical instructions is to somehow appeal to the digital generation, connected 24/7 to the internet continuously from first yawn until final slumber, this I most reluctantly at least can understand.

DVDs and printed instructions seem so 20th century.  

But then so are most of the good things we enjoy! Why not continue to always provide at least basic printed instructions for those of us who choose not to be always on-line? (And yes, I am aware of the intrinsic irony making this request via email on an on-line blog.) Is it too much to ask magic manufacturers not to turn their backs on the rest of us while continuing to appeal to the cool kids?

I don't really blame the manufacturers. They just figured they were doing what we, the magic consumers, wanted.

And I certainly don't blame the dealers, they just sell what they are given to sell, as best they can.

I blame all of us, the magic buying community. We've quietly allowed this infuriating degradation of our purchases to occur.

It's not long ago one of the regular reviewers in Genii bemoaned the fact that physical instructions no longer accompanied the items being reviewed. I've not seen that enlightened attitude in print since. I guess even the reviewers have accepted the absence of physical instructions as the way it is.

Well, I'm here to say I'm fed up with constantly being presented with no choice when buying an expensive effect! I'm fed up always having to spend extra time and excess energy trying to find the streaming instructions on-line each and every time I want to look at instructions. (Downloadable instructions are perhaps less problematic but can be equally frustrating for the reasons I have outlined.)

Please understand: I'm not advocating for the abolition of such links. They're great for more advanced stuff and they have their advantages. Of course DVDs do too. I just always want the option of having the basic, essential instructions in print again at the time of purchase.

I'm actually at the point I think twice about making purchases that don't include printed instructions. Do I really want it? Give me a book any day.

To recap, for those of you surfing and watching five screens at once: I miss printed instructions accompanying my magic purchases. Even occasional actual DVDs. But mostly printed instructions.

What say you? Am I the only one left in the reading room or are there any others out there who feel the same way?

If we all make enough noise perhaps some manufacturers might notice.

Who knows? Getting printed instructions again one day might even become retro-cool.

Retro-cool? Woo hoo!

I should only live so long.



We are also big fans of printed instructions.  Lovely to know we're not the only ones!

Thank you The Magic Demon for guest posting at Canada's Magic!


1 comment:

  1. Another reason I decided to make The Hermit Magazine a PDF- you can print it easily and read it like that, or you can keep it on your computer, or both. I'm with you- I don't need everything to be a 30-60 minute video stream or download in order for me to feel like I got my money's worth. The effect should justify the price of the sale more than the production quality. And what does it cost manufacturers to include a few sheets of paper?