Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Q & A

Here is our first batch of Questions and Answers about the Bava book, as promised. For those of you who haven't yet read our initial blog entry, with all of the current information pertaining to the book's present schedule, scroll down or click the "Tim's Update #1" blog option to the right.

I'm wondering, is the book a limited edition or something? -- Bård Haugland

TIM RESPONDS: Yes and no. We have called it that in the past, and it will be limited in some respects; for example, only the pre-ordered copies we sell will be signed. After that, requests for signed copies will not be granted as a courtesy to those who supported the project by pre-ordering, though I may do some in-store signings. Why should we limit our potential earnings from the book by making it a limited edition? And besides, what would be the point of making a book, that took 30 years to write, available for only a brief period of time and a select group of people?

That said, we will be printing a finite number of copies of the deluxe First Edition, in the low thousands. Whether the deluxe edition will have a continued availability beyond its initial printing depends entirely on demand. We don't intend to destroy the printing plates -- but if the demand isn't there for another print run, it may suddenly go out of print and become a limited edition. Of course, there is always the possibility of a cheaper, text-only, softcover edition further down the road, but neither of us wants to think about that yet.

In short, if getting the original, full-color edition is important to you, it would be wise to act earlier rather than later.

If you're worried about the length and weight of the book, have you ever put any consideration into dividing it up into separate volumes? Sounds to me like you have so much info on the guy you could release a Bava Encyclopedia if you wanted to. -- Isaac Kennell

TIM RESPONDS: I actually campaigned for a two-volume presentation, but Donna (who is designing the book) was and is against it. She had more good reasons why we shouldn't do it than I could offer in the idea's defense.

First of all, publishing two books is more expensive than publishing one, even if the two books are half the size of the one. There's additional binding costs, and twice as much material to handle come shipping time. Furthermore, when we began accepting pre-orders for the book, the product description in our ad specified one book. It would impose additional postage costs and a need for twice as much packaging material to divide the project into two volumes.

Even if these practical concerns didn't exist, we would be left with the problem of dividing Bava's career between the two books into the films he photographed and those he directed. Since most of his early work has never been screened in English-speaking countries, the first volume covering those years (of which I am particularly proud) would be generally neglected, with most people wanting to read about BLACK SUNDAY and what came after.

So, after all is said and done, it's ultimately best to present his story as a whole.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but I'm curious how you would have been able to make the previously listed publication date of mid-September 2005 (which means the original printer you had lined up would have needed the book by August 1st to meet the scheduled date), when now you're posting on your Bava Blog you'll needed until March 2006 to finish the book? It's just an obvious question that no one seems to have asked when discussing the recent delay. Thanks in advance for any insight you can provide on this. -- Jim Clatterbaugh

DONNA RESPONDS: We originally posted a publication date of mid-September, based on a non-stop production schedule of 10 weeks beginning at the end of May. By that time, the various stills, posters and artwork that others had restored for us were to be delivered to me. I had a week scheduled for fixing the text (primarily the index and the footnotes); 1 week for final layout of TOC and back matter; 4 weeks for dropping in pictures and tweaking the layout; 2 weeks for printing on the laserjet, final proofing, and making corrections; and 2 weeks to get it loaded into proper PDF files and sent to the printer. Our printer at the time was the same printer that's printing our magazine, and they told us the year before that they would need 6 weeks to print and deliver it. We knew their routine, we knew that what we saw on our screen would match the print, and they are 15 miles away from us, which meant that if there were any problems, I could be there during the press run.

Once we brought some sample files to them in May, they reluctantly told us they couldn't print the job after all, because our book had outgrown the capability of their presses. The page size was OK, but the year before, we had anticipated MB - ATCOTD to be an 800 page book. Now that it's over 1000 pages, they realized their bindery equipment would not hold that many signatures, and they'd have to sub it out to a different company in another state to do the binding, and it would not be the price they quoted. With the manual sorting of the signatures and the extra binding and shipping cost, it would be way beyond what they originally quoted. So they had to pass on the project.

Our quest for another printer took us through the end of the year. We originally had over 10 printers who responded to our query, most of them outside the USA. They say it takes 3 months for production (instead of 6 weeks) because shipping will take an entire month alone, printing and binding will probably take about 6 weeks, and the other 2 weeks is for pre-production and approvals of the work, which have to be shipped back and forth, since Hong Kong is not located 15 miles away.

The index that we thought was going to take 1 week took 3 months because of so many unforseen problems. The book was originally divided into 10 Pagemaker documents (some more than 175 pages each). When selecting text to index, the program kept crashing, sometimes in the middle of searching and replacing entries. I tried converting to InDesign, but the same problems and many more occurred. After a crash, some of the documents had to be re-done from scratch, reimporting the text and re-doing the index. Many times, I would have to backtrack and be sure it got what I put in before the crash. I wound up dividing the 10 documents into 26 documents, making each section about 50 pages each. Eventually I had to use memory management programs so I could have some warning before a crash happened, and macro programs to help globally replace items in the index when I had to repeat each search and replace 26 times for each of the documents. This was in addition to all the fact-checking that the index brought to light, double-checking names, titles, years, places, etc... many of them in Italian! The index spans about 35 pages right now, 7 point type.

And that's a selective index!

We could not finalize the pictures until we signed on with a printer because the recommended color profile for their press had to be applied for each picture as it is turned to CMYK, which is also the time that final color-correcting needs to take place. Most of the pictures are fixed up and restored, but all of them need to be color-profiled before the finals can be placed in the layout. Then the usual tightening of the text and balancing the columns needs to be done. I was also told that, if there are trapping problems, I'll have to fix them at my end. I'm looking into how to do this, since my current printer always did this for me in the past.

The footnotes need to be put on the page spread where they are mentioned, which means more layout time, but it will ultimately be easier on the reader, who won't have to hold their place in this 12-pound tome while searching for footnotes elsewhere in the book. Final cover art for front and back and endpapers need to be finalized once final dimensions are given from the printer. Once delivered to the printer, they will send back proofs which we have to sign off on or make corrections to, and shuffle things back and forth. Since we can't be there in person, they have to ship us proofs, possibly press sheets, and finally one copy of the book so we can approve it overall and approve the binding, before they bind the rest.

As long as we don't run into more unforeseen problems, 3 months to finish the book seems a reasonable prediction at this point. But who can tell? I certainly didn't think the index would take so long, so I'm hoping there aren't a lot of problems with the restored pictures I received back, the limitations of the programs, or the specifications that the printer requires.

We'll keep you posted.

We welcome everyone's questions about the Bava book. Just click on "Contact Tim." I will either reply to you personally or on this blog page in our next Q&A.


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