Heard the one about the re-release of “Red Hot Cold Reading”, one of the seminal cold reading books, by Herb Dewey and Thomas K. Saville?

Well, I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first? Okay, the good news.

The good news is, “Red Hot Cold Reading” was re-released.

The bad news? It may be that it was not supposed to be released. As in, unauthorized.

If that is the case — and we don’t yet know — I’ve got news worse than that: I have a pretty good idea who is personally involved in “Dragon Books” — the purported publisher.

If it turns out this is unauthorized, unfortunately for me, I ordered two copies — one to replace my ragged one, and one as a surprise for a friend. I ordered them from a fellow I’ve done business with over the years, and find him to be a good and decent dealer. $20 each plus shipping. (Update: Not that it should surprise anyone, considering who the dealer was, I got a full refund of my purchase plus shipping charges. The “unfortunate” part was not about the money; it was about the fact that I may not have two legitimate copies of the book.)

Unfortunately, when they arrived, I was not happy. At all.

Here’s the cover:

The red hot Red Hot Cold Readings cover

And trust me when I tell you, its rear end is no beauty either.

Does that look look at all familiar? Well, it would if you’re like me and purchase e-books only to cart them off to Kinkos so they can turn it into a dead-tree version — which is the right way to read a book. (If I were to guess, this the way the Almighty would want His books if He were in our sandals. Although, I guess that comparison sort of falls down when one considers the subject matter of the book.)

Like you, I purchase e-books usually because it’s the only format available for some things in our weird little world. Usually they are a form of evil that I tolerate only as long as it takes for the college kids to print and bind a nice copy for me. (Not everyone has the skills to produce an attractive e-book. Most I’ve seen look like…well, this one.)

Granted, I usually go with a softer color for the cover — you know, maybe something in a pastel.

This “version” of “Red Hot Cold Reading” looks like someone scanned the original book and ran it through an OCR program. While I admire someone with the stamina to correct the inevitable bajillion spelling errors this process no doubt created (the original book was apparently manually typed on a circa-1621 typewriter, its ink obviously provided by crumbling into powder burning leaves from outside the cave and pressed into something one might loosely refer to as “fabric ribbon”) it remains to be proven if this published version is legal.

(The proof-reader did manage to leave the original’s “Saville” as “Seville”, and retitled the books as “Red Hot Cold Readings” — but why get picky?)

None of us can any longer discuss the matter with Herb (unless your name is John Edward, in which case you should go straight to hell, do not pass go and stop collecting $200, and stop reading my blog), and — to the best of my knowledge — Thomas K. Saville has proven to be difficult to locate.

I’m going to watch this issue — as should you — to see if, indeed, this is unauthorized and, if so, if my guess about the perpetrator is correct. If I am…

Piracy — the word many of us use in regards to the unauthorized publishing of something not within the legal rights of the bastard individual doing the publishing — is a criminal offense. How criminal is criminal? How serious may this issue be? Well, the United States Department of Justice could already be involved.

Given the pox found all over the body of magic, thanks to intellectual property thieves, I would be very happy to see some of this sort of serious justice dealt in the world of magic and mentalism. We’ve tried the “police ourselves” route — it didn’t work.

UPDATE: Silly me. I forgot to add part of the email Charlie sent out on March 2, 2007:

I’ve removed Red Hot Cold Reading from the site. There was a reaction that it may have been pirated.

I have pressed the publisher of this new edition for more concrete proof of rights. In the meantime, I am withdrawing it.

Still waiting to hear more…

2 thoughts on “Redefining “red hot” in “Red Hot Cold Reading”

  1. Yes, there should be a special little corner of hell reserved for thieves like this.

    One funny thing about our little niche is that publications are often so poorly produced–by the original publishers/authors–that it’s hard to spot a low-quality knock off. The picture you posted could easily pass as an original, standard-issue, conjuring monograph.

    Hmm, now that I think about it, this applies to hard goods, too. Unlike in other industries, a poorly constructed, barely documented, and ill-conceived product isn’t the sign of a counterfeit at all!

    Unless the word gets out, as you’ve helped with this post, most magic consumers would be none the wiser.

  2. HI:
    I am astonished, though not surprised, that this book has such a high rating among magicians. I was not impressed by readings I have seen delivered by this author. Indeed IMO the best readers I have seen have all been belivers in whatever div9ination technique they applied. I dounbt that Mr. Dewey was a beleiver. It is an oddity in magicians that if they want to learn something not directly connected to magic they usually look for writing on the subject by someone within the magic community.


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