Today--several days late, I admit--I reveal what we've been working on with regards to the Virginia Edition and why there've been such delays. I'll be completely straightforward and honest and all I ask is that you read through to the end.
In taking over the publication of the Virginia Edition, the first thing we've had to do was to check on the financial status that had been left to us. Without delving too deeply into the details, matters were less than peachy-keen. One of the major roadblocks that we ran into was that the pricing of the edition--both production cost and selling price--was untenable. For those interested in an example, the slip cases that come with each book cost significantly more than the books themselves.
The Heinlein Trust's main goal in publishing the Virginia Edition is to create a quality set of the works of Robert Heinlein that can be afforded by most people and which will thus serve to ensure the availability and further the legacy of Mr. Heinlein. It is with that in mind that we are initiating the following changes in the set:
In order to reduce both production cost and selling price, we will no longer be producing the slipcases for the set nor do we intend to gild the edges of the pages. We are also removing the artwork by Donato from the spine--as we have acquired the rights to the painting that was to be used for the first set of twelve books, we would like to produce a poster of the full painting for all of the current Virginia Edition subscribers. In place of the artwork, we will print the title of the book on the spine and front cover.
On a somewhat brighter note, we will be eliminating the cloth-bound edition and printing entirely in leather at a significantly reduced price. We would like to let all the current customers keep the six volumes they already have, however we're investigating to see if we'll actually be allowed to do so. Keep reading for more information on that.
As starting these changes with volume 7 would result in a severely mismatched set, we are going to reprint the first six volumes--and take a little time to make sure some of the errors from those volumes are solved--when we next go to print. (That, incidentally, is the reason volume 7 hasn't been published when I said it would, when we realized we might be reprinting, we put it on hold.) In the interim, we've also managed to ready volume 8 and get substantial work done on volumes 9-12. Depending on how much longer our talks with the printer go (see below), we'll be printing at least 8 volumes.
This is still subject to change--for reasons I'll go into later--but we expect the new VE price to be in the $1800 dollar range. As this is below the previous cost of the cloth edition--and even further below the cost of the leather edition--we will be issuing refunds equal to the difference between the new cost and the old cost. If you've been on a subscription plan, we'll either reduce your total number of payments or reduce the size of the payments.
We are currently investigating to see if there's any way that we can carry the burden of producing a limited print-run of the original version of the Virginia Edition--sans Donato artwork--for the original subscribers and for the Exclusive edition subscribers, however, if we cannot, or if you're simply infuriated with the blasphemy that we're perpetrating and want no part in any of it, we will offer a full refund of your money in lieu of the new set of books.
We are currently contracting with Windhaven Press--a small editing group that has had experience with Heinlein's works--to continue the editing for the project. Under this set-up, we hope to move through the editing process quickly and efficiently. Assuming no major problems crop up, our optimistic goal is to have the editing and layout work done by around January, pessimistically by April or May. Once the lay-out work has been completed, we can print any that hadn't yet been printed--we're hoping to print in at least sets of six every few months--and subscribers could have a full set by the end of next summer.
One of the few remaining hurdles we have to face right now is nailing down some of the details with Transcontinental Publishing--we've gotten a few sets of conflicting numbers and so we're looking to see where the error lies there--and that's been a factor in some of our delays.
We are also considering replacing the publication of "Grumbles from the Grave" with "Requiem" edited by Yoji Kondo. I've spoken with Mr. Kondo and he was excited about the possibility. Our rationale for considering the change is that "Grumbles from the Grave" follows several volumes of Heinlein's personal correspondence and including "Grumbles" would be largely repetition and so "Requiem" might be a welcome substitution.
At this time, I would also like to take a moment to recognize the work done by Bill Patterson. Bill Patterson is the official Heinlein Scholar and he is putting a lot of his time and effort into acquiring our source texts, putting together introductions, and sewing together the letters of correspondence, collections of non-fiction and short stories.
'tis all for now.
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