Update from the Engine Room

My compositor made the mistake of asking me a question about the Lyonesse maps… so I asked him a question. Here are some responses:

Initial proofing for volume 3 is nearly finished. Corrected file will then be sent to the proofers for verification.

Volume 4 goes to the proofers Monday.

All of volume 5 has been set but for Green Pearl and Madouc.

Sixteen of the 26 titles for Vol. 6 have been set. We’re also adding JV’s collected forewords, prefaces, etc., to this last volume.

We are moving along pretty well…


Update on Printing Progress

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…

Volumes 1 & 2 released to Printer

I am releasing Volumes 1 & 2 to our printer in Milan. The files are sent to an ftp site, so the printer will have them by tomorrow. I will have firm printing dates shortly after, and from that, expected time of arrival of the books in Virginia, and then to subscribers…

Update 2/6/2010

Well, the final hi-resolution PDFs should have been in my hands, for last and final approval. Trouble is, it started snowing yesterday sometime before dawn, has continued for 26 hours, and is supposed to go on through 5 PM. We have 18″ of snow, and more to arrive. Where the disks are with the PDFs is anyone’s guess. At the bottom of my driveway, 1/3 of a mile long and 200′ below Afton House? At the Afton Post Office? 1.0 miles away, and 600′ vertically above Afton House? Dunno… But as soon as I can get them to page through them, and nod yes, the printer will have them.

Volume 3 is set, and a PDF is going out to proofing. Volume 4 isn’t far behind.

Believe it or not, I am just now reading Jack’s autobiography. It’s a good read, and it’s pure Vance: there’s something characteristic of his writing, the understated and occasionally mordant humor, which makes me laugh out loud. My family is used to this. I advise you to get a copy, if you haven’t already. Besides, there’s a passing acknowledgment to me on the last page… of that I am inordinately proud.

If I have time later today, I’ll upload a picture of the actual “Afton House”. For a fact, one of the aspects does look like the Afton House logo, and the moon even does appear in the place shown from time to time.

Update 2/1/2010

Well, you can stop waiting for the books in January. I don’t mean to be flip, but things are simply going slower than I had hoped. However, there’s light on the horizon.

Volumes 1 and 2 are going out the the printer today or tomorrow. The final hi-resolution pdfs are in the mail to me (they don’t fit in e-mail). The covers are finalized, and I hope to have a hard print date from the printer this week.

Although the first two volumes are over a month past my first deadlines, the second two volumes are in the final throes of proofing, and will follow in short order. The covers are pretty much the same but for volume number, and things will go faster, I promise.

If you have any questions or concerns, send me e-mail… I’m happy to respond.