Hello again from Afton, Va. Here’s some more on progress towards your Complete Vance Integral Edition.
The printer has our high-resolution PDFs. Most books these days are printed on what amounts to large-sheet, Xerox-type printers. (There’s little offset and letterpress anymore.) So books are written on some editor such as MS Word, and then typeset using (most often) one of either Adobe’s InDesign or Quark Express. The process of converting a Word document to InDesign is the province of the compositor, who worries about visual appearance, drawings, footnotes, ligatures, accents, and all sorts of other nitty-gritty of setting a book. The resulting PDF file can be very large, since images will be included.
The printer can print directly from this, but a prudent publisher (and I’m a prudent publisher) will do one more check, from something called a “blue” or “ozalith”. I suspect that this refers to a now-obsolete process, because what I receive as a “blue” is actually the “block” of the book–that is, the printed pages, cut but not bound, from the machine that will print the book. This is the exact printed material that you will receive. Two of us will page through all 2000 pages over the next week or so, making sure that the counts are correct, page numbers, and so on. At that point, we tell the printer: let’s go. The actual printing doesn’t take very long: a day or so.
The blocks of the book are then bound in a sometimes-separate facility, a bindery. At the bindery, they are given a gross check, packed into substantial boxes, and a large crate of books heads out to 38.022661 N, -78.85494 E. At that point, I begin affixing labels, and my local post office (a small one) has to be appeased with chocolates and Italian candies. (They are obligated to ask, “are you shipping anything hazardous or dangerous?” I sometimes say yes, which nets me a look. I explain: “they are books. What can be more dangerous than ideas?”. I don’t go to jail because of the candy… and, of course, they know exactly where I live.
As a side note, some of you have asked me about a leather-bound edition. I have been thinking about that. I may set aside a few blocks, so that people who want a leather-bound edition may purchase one. This will be very expensive, since less than a dozen are likely to be made. A leather-bound set may come in at $3500 plus shipping and handling. You can go ahead with your present order, since I have found that VIE sets only become more valuable, and you can sell your set for more than you paid. (This isn’t a promise, by the way… just my experience.) In any event, I am not certain that the leather-bound will ever exist.
Volumes 3 & 4 will follow more quickly than Volumes 1&2, since they are already in the composition-edit-composition pipeline.
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask…