There’s a big difference between doing close-up magic and being a close-up magician. While anybody can learn a few tricks and present them to friends, it takes more than tricks to work for audiences of strangers day after day. Style and personality, among other things, are needed. While no book can teach those things, there are books that provide invaluable insight into what makes a good close-up performer by portraying legendary magicians. These books are far more than collections of tricks; they paint a picture of the performers and, especially, of the experience of having been entertained by them. They are must reading for all aspiring close-up magicians.
The Close-up Magician Bert Allerton (Magic, Inc.)
Bert Allerton was a suave and debonair gentleman magician who confounded and befuddled his audiences at one of the most prestigious restaurant in Chicago. He was the quintessential high-society entertainer.
The Magic of Matt Schulien Phil Willmarth (Magic, Inc.)
Where Bert Allerton was quiet, soft-spoken and understated, Matt Schulien was loud, gregarious and fun. This jovial, bon-vivant magician owned and operated a family restaurant in Chicago, where he entertained and delighted his customers with the simplest of tricks. It is impossible to talk about these two books without mentioning a third one. The following book is from the same era and contains two tricks by Bert Allerton. Taken together, these three books make up a complete course in close-up magic.
Stars of Magic various contributors (Tannen)
Although there are many excellent books on close-up magic available today, few offer as much consistently strong material as this one. If you learn to do half the tricks in this book, you might not need any other tricks in your lifetime.
In addition to these classics, the books of two contemporary authors deserve particular attention.
Eugene Burger is probably the most respected close-up performer in North America today. His are books that make you think, as they cover theory, philosophy, and tricks. All his books are highly recommended (many are published by Kaufman).
Workers Michael Close (self-published)
These five books contain some of the best, most practical material available today, from the repertoire of a top professional restaurant magician. Nowhere else will you find such attention to detail; even the smallest points are fully explained.