Friday, October 31, 2008

Derren Tricks Booksellers: Or, The Phantom Derren Brown Book

Derren Brown has apparently been playing tricks of some kind on UK booksellers. The story comes from a blog called "Open a Bookshop, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"

The blogger writes:

About 4-5 years ago,... there was a number of people in a short space of time who came into the shop to ask if we stocked a copy of the new book by Derren Brown. We looked on the computer and found that there wasn't anything available.... The customers were absolutely sure they'd seen something about the book on a poster or in a newspaper recently but couldn't remember the name of the book. Nothing unusual about this, but the strange thing is that every one of the customers who came in were so so sure they'd seen an advert about this book, they simply couldn't understand why we couldn't find it on the computer.... Katie and I have talked about this a few times and laughingly suggested that maybe these people had been hypnotised into thinking that the book existed.

But what's most provocative about the story is that several other booksellers report the same phenomenon -- see the comments section on the blog post.

What is going on here? Did Derren advertise a book, which was never released? Was this part of a trick? Any ideas?


scumbag said...

I found a book apparently written by D.Brown on a torrent-site a year was based on some old writings he had done many years ago. And it was about magic. Nothing revolutionary, when you have his other book. But somebody had snatched this and "published" it in some degree without his acceptance. I think! I haven't seen this "book" any other places, so maybe it's was all the fuss is about. People don't wanna talk about they're torrent-activities...

This is from the intro of the book - a very funny intro:
"We are proud to be able to offer the magical fraternity this series of manuscripts that Derren made in the 1990s. Although originally nothing more than a few blank sheets of paper tied together with string, we have been able to reconstruct them as he would have wanted had he cared. This first volume represents the best of his output, before he eventually retired to concentrate upon his second great love - contributing short stories to the specialist magazine 'wheelchair fellatio'."

scumbag said...

hmm...according to Wikipedia he has written many books. The first 3 about magic.

wow...that's even funnier and more sophisticated than I thought. It's Derrens own words.

Phil R said...

he's working on a new book... you can read about it on his new blog in a few days...

Robinson said...

Derren has written at least three books: Absolute Magic, Pure Effect, and Tricks of the Mind. The first two are intended for magicians and the last, which I believe was released only in the UK, was for the general public. I believe his fourth/upcoming book may be an art book on his caricature work.

There were, at one time, many amateurly-produced pdfs written about DB's supposed methods, as well as pirated pdfs of Absolute Magic and Pure Effect circulating on the P2P networks.

The quote from scumbag from some "old writings" sounds like it came straight from either Absolute Magic or Pure Effect -- perhaps he stumbled upon one of those pirated pdfs. Both those books were originally published with Derren's permission through a legitimate publisher -- and even reprinted after he made a name for himself with his multiple television series on Channel 4. He may not have been so thrilled about these early writings coming out again after he achieved some fame as a performer, but, at least for awhile, I believe Derren even sold these on his own website.

Given the "About 4-5 years ago," I would say that coincides with Pure Effect's publication date (given on of 2002). Absolute Magic came out earlier and Tricks of the Mind came out last year. Since Absolute Magic and Pure Effect were published by a small/magic specialist publisher, they wouldn't show up on most bookshop computers and you'd never find them in Borders, Waldenbooks, Barnes&Nobles, or any other chain bookstore in the U.S. or UK.

So, the fact is that a book (in fact two books) did exist, it was just something that was (at least originally) printed in very small numbers.

Most North American magicians didn't know who DB was until those first two books were out of print. Then when he became known there was a great clamoring for them. Thus, the reprinting. So, the case of the "Phantom Derren Brown Book," I believe, should actually be re-titled to the case of two "Elusive Derren Brown Books."