Friday, July 20, 2012

Price Tags and You

"What is a cynic?  A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."
-Oscar Wilde

Look at that quote.  Really think about it for a minute.  In the last few years, the magic market has become saturated with products.  Single tricks, DVDs, books, ebooks, gimmicks.  And they tend to run the gamut from astounding (Ladybug by Paul Harris) to trash (iFloat).  A common complaint I hear is from magicians who despise the one-trick DVD trend, or sometimes even buying individual effects if they're not large-scale illusions.  The logic is always that the price is too high when you could get way more from a copy of Mark Wilson's or Modern Coin Magic.

Those of you who know me are aware how quick I am to recommend fundamental texts before DVDs.  For the beginner, they're a bargain.  Lots of material for little money.  And that brings me to the point.  Before we simply write off a product as too expensive for the quantity of content, try judging how much it's worth to you.

Some people would call me crazy to have spent the money I did on Docc Hilford's System 88.  But the system has been good to me.  I made my money back and then some.  There are people who have bought and performed material that I wouldn't touch, but they make it work whereas it would have just looked awful coming from me.

Value is relative.  It changes from one circumstance to another.  Prices are fixed by the market based on supply, demand, and the cost of manufacturing and distribution.  They are influenced by value, yes, but value is something separate.  Warren Buffet once said that his skill set in business and investment is disproportionately rewarded in the modern US, but if you were plunk him down in Peru, he admits that he wouldn't be doing so hot.  People in the States value what he does, but an agrarian economy... not so much.

The same is true of you and the material you learn.  Whether or not a book or DVD is worth the money depends on you, your act, your character, your style, and the sorts of shows you do.  So before saying, "That's way too expensive for a single trick!" consider instead the content and what you personally would get out of it.  Yeah, there are some really terrible products out there, cobbled together as obvious cash grabs with slipshod methods that could only fool a drunken toddler...  But maybe not as many as you think.