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You are here: » » Organizing Magic Books

The Joyal Index:

Organizing a Magic Book Library

There are many methods for organizing magic books. The two main ones are by author or by magician.

Many magicians and book lovers are very familiar with the authors of their books. Whether they have a small or a large library, they organize books by author. It’s easy and natural for them to look for a Vernon trick in books written by Bruce Cervon, Lewis Ganson, Stephen Minch, Faucet Ross, Dai Vernon, and a few other authors.

Other magicians and book lovers prefer to organize according to magicians. Therefore, all the books related to Vernon magic are grouped together.

Either method is good and a matter of taste, and both have their drawbacks. The main goal of the organization is to be able to quickly and easily find what you are looking for. It’s up to the owner to make his choice. One could compare this choice to the one made for the suit order in a card stack. Some magicians prefer the CHaSeD order, others go for the SHoCkeD. Both options are good and efficient.

Personaly, my main interest being card tricks, I chose to organize my books according to magicians.

I went a bit further by assigning a unique index to each book. An index entry for a book looks like this:

VERD1959A
Dai Vernon’s Inner Secrets of Card Magic
The first line is the book index, according to the following format:
  • The first four characters correspond to the magician who the book is about. The first three letters of the magician’s last name, and the first letter of his first name are used. So VERD means Vernon, Dai.
  • 1959 is the year of the first edition. When the year is unknown, the notation 19** is used.
  • The last character is a differentiator to make sure the index is unique (e.g., if three books were published in the same year, they would use A, B, and C as differentiators).

The second line is the book title.

Another example of a book index would be LEPP1949A for The Card Magic of Le Paul, published in 1949.

For periodical reprints, such as The Jinx, Phoenix, Ibidem, and so on, the main editor’s name is used, as well as the date of publication of the first issue. As an example, The Jinx was edited by Theodore Annemann, and the first issue was published in 1934. Therefore ANNT1934A is the book index. When reprints were the object of more than one volume, the differentiator A, B, C, and so on is used. This way, ANNT1934B and ANNT1934C reference The Jinx - Volume 51-100, and The Jinx - Volume 101-150, respectively.

I do not claim that this way of indexing books is without flaws. There are rare occasions in which confusion might occur. This would be the case for Jerry Mentzer and John Mendoza, as book indexes for both of them begin with “MENJ”. But this method of indexing certainly fulfill my needs, as the indexes are:

  • easy to understand,
  • meaningful,
  • simple to use when taking shorthand notes,
  • and of great help in organizing a magic book library.
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