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Don't Get Scammed by the Outrageous Magic Marketplace - Learn to Navigate It

Pete McCabe drops by with an op-ed about the magic product industry, its history and how to avoid all of the noise.

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“And once they have your attention, they use it to ask for attention.
And once they have that attention, they use it to ask for attention.”
—From “Wearing a Raincoat” by They Might Be Giants

Hi. I’m Pete McCabe. I wrote Scripting Magic 1+2. Remember when Rory, One Ahead’s founder, said the goal is for One Ahead to someday serve as the front page of magic on the internet, with new stories every day and a team of brilliant writers?

That’s me! I’m one of the brilliant writers! Well, that’s the idea, anyway.

Today I’m writing about the world of magic product ads and reviews, which has become explosively toxic lately. I’m 62, and I’ve been surrounded by magic ads and reviews for 50 years. Damn, I’m old. But I have lived through the transition from the halcyon days when everything was beautiful to our, let’s say, current situation.

I thought I could help you understand how it happened and, more importantly, what you can do about it.

In the old days, magic ads were beautiful because they were drawn by professional artists. And magic reviews were informative because they were written by professionals.

But there were also complaints of misleading advertising, people saying their product has been ripped off, and reviewers attacked for biases. In other words, exactly the same problems we are suffering through today.

So why was last month the worst month in the history of the magic marketplace?

The answer: the internet.

Or, to put it another way, it’s you.

You’re the problem.

The good news: you’re also the solution.

Part 1. The Media is the Message

I believe the marketplace for magic products has become its own form of social media, with ads, reviews, and comments posted across multiple websites and platforms. Because the world of magic is so small, it functions as a single entity across these domains. Things posted on any of them ripple across them all.

And so, more and more the magic marketplace follows the rules of social media, of which there are only two.

Rule #1 is that all that matters is activity. Doesn’t matter if it’s pictures of cats or screaming of insults; all that matters is activity.

Rule #2 is that outrage generates the most activity.

And so the world of magic ads and reviews is getting more and more outrageous.

Outrage can do a lot of things. It can generate strong emotions. It can make you feel like a warrior for justice. It can make you feel like pounding someone’s head into a wall. It can make you think that the thing you are outraged about is the most important thing in the world and that any people who are not outraged —there must be something wrong with them.

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