Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The world is filled with interesting facts. For example, did you know that neighborhood post offices don't have IRCs (International Reply Coupons) and so you've got to go to the main city branch? So it is in Houston, in any event. Another interesting fact: Office Space was not a work of fiction, printers really will tell you there is a paper jam when there is no paper jam. When there is a paper jam, printers will lie to you and tell you the jam is on the right side of the printer when, in fact, it is on the left.

All of which is to say that, after hours of struggling with the world's most accursed machines--finally bear-wrestling it into submission where it now weeps at my feet--the letter/update has been successfully mailed to everybody and, barring those outside of the US, should arrive by week's end.

For those who are especially anxious, I present the full text of the letter--less the papercut potential--for your perusal.


December 2007

Dear Virginia Edition Subscriber,

On June 29, 2007, the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust sent you a letter discussing the proposed transition of publication of the Virginia Edition from Meisha-Merlin to the Heinlein Prize Trust. From the responses we received, it seems that a large number of subscribers did not receive our letter, so we are enclosing a copy for your information. If you did not receive the June letter and have not spoken with us about it, please feel free to contact us at your convenience.

In the June letter, we stated that volume seven would be published sometime in September, however, as we examined the situation, we found that the Virginia Edition, as begun by Meisha-Merlin, was economically unviable. While the Trust wanted to move ahead as quickly as possible, we realized that rushing into this project could easily doom the entire enterprise and we might never see a completed Virginia Edition. As a result, we have spent the intervening months examining how best to ensure the continued production and completion of the Virginia Edition as a quality set of books.

The Trust received no royalties from the subscription payments received by Meisha-Merlin. While the Trust has no legal obligation to honor contracts subscribers made with Meisha-Merlin, the Trustees do feel morally compelled to do everything within their power to ensure that the original Virginia Edition subscriptions are honored. Taking over the production of the Virginia Edition would create a potential liability to the Trust of over a quarter-million dollars. Since the Trust is a non-profit organization, this potential liability has complicated our business planning. On advice of our attorney, the Trust has organized a new company, The Virginia Edition Publishing Company(VEPC), to take over production of the Virginia Edition.

After taking many factors into account, the VEPC chose to completely republish the Virginia Edition. The new Virginia Edition will be in full leather, will be serialized from 1-2000, and will not have artwork or slipcases.

The respected and experienced folks at Windhaven Press have contracted to scan, typeset, and proofread the text. Bill Patterson will reprise his role in organizing Robert Heinlein's letters, fiction, and non-fiction within the volumes. The leather-bound sets will continue to be printed by Transcontinental Printing, and Apogee Books will handle marketing and distribution. Printing and distribution of the books will be done in groups of volumes. The first group of ten volumes will be printed in the first quarter of 2008. Following that, the VEPC expects to release ten additional volumes every three to four months, completing the Virginia Edition by the first quarter of 2009.

The Virginia Edition Publishing Company is making the following offer to all current Virginia Edition subscribers: Subscribers may return their books to VEPC and receive a full refund of the monies paid. Alternatively, subscribers who elect to retain their subscription at the original subscription price may keep the original six slipcased volumes and will receive a new complete set bound in leather at no additional cost. They will also receive posters of Heinlein artwork that the Trust has commissioned, and a poster of the painting originally designed for the Virginia Edition slipcase. Subscribers to the clothbound version will receive a free upgrade to leather; subscribers to the leather version will receive an entire second leather bound set at no additional cost, which they can keep, or donate to a library or school.. Exclusive edition subscribers will receive further communication from VEPC on this matter. Please send VEPC your response and confirm your contact details in the enclosed envelope. VEPC’s offer expires February 1st, 2008. After February 1, 2008, subscribers who have not made an election will be entitled to retain the books they have received in full satisfaction of the subscription price paid. Additionally, after February 1, 2008, the price of the Virginia Edition may fluctuate with the market.

We understand that you have all committed a substantial amount of money to the Virginia Edition and that the aforementioned problems have made this a trying time for everyone. We thank all of you for the patience you have shown while we have worked to ensure that we will not be subject to the issues that have plagued the Virginia Edition to date.

The Trust and the Virginia Edition Publishing Company invite each of you to share your thoughts and feelings about the Virginia Edition with us and the VEPC. The VEPC has established a blog at virginiaedition.blogspot.com to keep subscribers updated with the status of the Virginia Edition. If that does not provide enough information or does not adequately address your concerns, please feel free to contact Sean Thompson of the Virginia Edition Publishing Company at sean.thompson@dula.com or 713-861-3600.


Arthur M. Dula
Trustee of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust

J. Buckner Hightower
Trustee of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust

James M. Vaughn, Jr.
Trustee of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust

Sean Thompson
Manager of the Virginia Edition Publishing Company


Zarf said...

Quick question for a future blog entry: when you stated that "subscribers to the leather version will receive an entire second leather bound set at no additional cost", does this mean that I (as a leatherbound edition subscriber) will receive two shipments of 10 volumes when each tranche is released; or that I will receive one shipment as the volumes are released, and a huge shipment with another complete set at the end? (I'm hoping that its the former....)

And thanks, again, for keeping all of us informed. Its a rough job (but someone's gotta do it), and it is greatly appreciated!!!

Fred said...

Sean, thanks for these updates.

A few questions, either for a subsequent blog entry, or maybe worth including on the forthcoming web site.

Since the reset button has essentially been hit... Are the new volumes just like the old ones, minus the dust jacket and slipcase?

Specifically: same height? same paper? gold gilt edging? same font family? same leather? etc..

Trys said...

Will the poster(s) be printed on archival paper with light fast inks so that what we receive can be displayed without worrying about fading?

John N. said...

Well, while I would have much preferred the original presentation -- colored artwork has much more impact on one's shelf than faceless leather! -- I still want a full hardback set of Heinlein. It is a bit of a shocker that the Trust never received any of the monies, though; I thought that a separate company was formed for the publication to prevent this kind of problem...

Regarding publication details: I just got a newsletter from Subterranean Press saying that they had arranged with the Trust to print some of Heinlein's remaining unpublished material; is this all material that will be in the VE set?

Finally, a side issue: not too long ago, the Trust opened up digitized version of the archives to the public. This is undoubtedly a great resource for scholars; there were even a few items I was tempted by. However, it is clearly not a *reader's* resource. I wonder whether the Trust would consider publication of electronic version of the VE texts -- preferrably through Baen's Webscriptions, which is the largest sane publisher of e-books.

Thanks for keeping us posted!

--John N.

Betsy said...

You said a few posts back that you would post the links to the new site. Is it ready yet? And why does Meisha Merlin's site still say they are producing the books? they now even have an order now button with immediate credit card processing?

I also got the letter asking for a response if we want the books or the refund. Is there any way we can inform you on the net?

krishna kashyap av said...

Very interesting and
cool facts.
Some were exuberating..
Work from home