Friday, September 28, 2007


I can’t help but think that the debacle Richard James has created with his trick Linked could’ve been avoided if there’d been no pre-order. He now has a lot of angry people who shelled out their money contingent on receiving the trick at a certain time; after all the delays, it seems that unless the trick lives up to his claims (made by the video and what he’s said) he’s going to have effectively destroyed his credibility. Why not wait until you actually have the trick to sell before selling it?

From a marketing perspective, what’s great about the pre-order is that you can generate a lot of hype without having any actual reviews from consumers. Everybody’s talking about the thing and blowing it out of proportion, and soon you find yourself sucked into the hoopla and order something that nobody really knows anything about.

The problem with it is that people are usually disappointed when the thing actually arrives; it’s almost impossible for the product, even if it’s good, to match the expectations which have been raised. You see this over and over. A trick comes out you can pre-order, people are raving over the possibilities, then after it comes out all the talk dies and only a couple of people bother to say anything more about it.

The other problem, from a consumer standpoint, is it’s the perfect way for the unscrupulous to separate you from your money. A great concept is described; everybody gets on board imagining how incredible it must be, then the actual trick is without a practical method.

I don’t think I’ve ever pre-ordered a magic trick or book. The only reasons I can see for doing a pre-order are if a limited number of copies are going to be sold or by pre-ordering you’re going to save money. Even then I wouldn’t recommend it unless you know who you’re dealing with. Could be I’m old school, but I don’t like the idea of buying something that doesn’t actually exist yet. See you next time.


Glenn Bishop "Bish The Magish" said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Coles said...

Thanks, Glenn. I wouldn't sell anything unless it was done either, but like you that's just me. As I said in the post, the only good reasons for doing a pre-order would be if you were selling a limited run of something or the consumer could save by ordering early. Otherwise it's liable to be more trouble than it's worth.

Fry Guy said...

I think that sometimes it's OK to preorder things... for example I preordered Cardshark from Darwin Ortiz because I trust him, and I knew I was going to buy the book anyway, might as well have it shipped immediately after it becomes available.

Just an idea.

Jim Coles said...

If it's someone you know is going to deliver -- like a Darwin Ortiz or Richard Kaufman -- I don't see a problem. My intent wasn't to condemn the practice per se, only look at some of the problems inherent in it -- especially in the case of Linked.

I wouldn't sell by pre-order, and I doubt I would buy anything that way, but that's just me.