Most of you are familiar with The Tarbell Course in Magic and many of you, as I do, have the set of books put out comprised of the material found in the original course plus a couple other volumes put together after the death of Tarbell. For those not hip to Tarbell here is a quick history. Back in the 1920's a publisher wanted Houdini to produce a course in magic that would be mailed to students in increments. As often happens Houdini didn't mind having his name associated with the project but didn't want to do the work himself. The gentlemen behind the project then asked Harland Tarbell, a magician and artist, if he would produce the magic course for them. Harlan did as requested, Houdini was out of the picture, and the course was released as the Tarbell Course. The methods of advertizing and how the course was ran is very interesting in itself. The benefit of the Tarbell Course was the student would receive their work for the week and progress through the courses. The quality of the art and instructions as well as the routines themselves were very high and this is evidenced today by many request for information being followed with "It's in Tarbell". If you were to really get down to business and want to learn magic the Tarbell Course is, and I doubt anyone with knowledge will disagree, a must for the collection of any serious magician. I collected mine a number of years ago, 8 volumes at over $30.00 a volume. I've read the complete set a couple times and cannot count how often I've turned to them for information.
Tarbell wrote his course over a period of years and he had contribution from everyone from Houdini to Dai Vernon. Charlie Miller, Blackstone, Keller, Silent Mora, and more all represented in the original course. In the later volumes written by Harry Loryne (and NOT in the ebook version as you'll note later, which is no biggie) even has a routine by a young Davino, later to become David Copperfield. The course covers the obvious such as sleight of hand, cards, coins, rope, egg magic, chemical magic, silks, escapes, mentalism, and also has a good number of illusions that are often the foundation of those you see on stage today. You will find some of the material dated, some out and out unperformable (routine wise) with todays sensativities. That is not a bad thing because if you have some creativity, and you should, you can take and should take the routines and make them fit your performance style and character. The course also includes some excellent essays on magic history and presentation, some of the best I've read.
I think I've made it clear that I think Tarbell is a fantastic resource for the magician and I prize my set. Now let us look at the eBook version.
This is my first experience with eBooks, brought to you by lybrary.com, you may have heard of them, they preserve magic one book at a time you know. That is a good thing because they are giving new life to books that deserve to be read and used and in a format that is perfect for magic. I say perfect because these books, for the most part, are segmented and rather than reading line a novel you go to a certain item and review it and look at the illustrations. The Tarbell Course on eBook is based on the original correspondence course and not the books. The books are laid out a bit differently but the eBook is just as you would have received it back in 1932 when you were a magi in training. You get to look at the original text, meaning the bad font and all that, or the cleaner modern font version. All with Tarbells excellent illustrations.
I've never done the eBook thing before but after 10 minutes of hacking around the computer I got the ebook up and running. The course can be accessed in order (as mailed back in da day) or by title as broken down into catagory. I had no problem cruising around and looking at old gems. This is so nice to work with I think I'll be looking at the e version quite a bit. This version has all the original material including the essays. You will not be dissappointed. The cost for the entire Tarbel Course (excluding the later two volumes, which was really more like 1.3 volumes) on ebook is just a tad bit more than one of the 8 hard copies would cost you. That means it is one heck of a cost efficient way to have access to some great magic. I give the e version (as well as the hard version) a thumbs up. The benefits of the e version are ease of use and cost. Recommended at lybrary.com and I think that is the only place to find it.