Greetings Miss Snark,
I've been a loyal Snarkling for a full month now! :-) However, your blog is helping me procrastinate all too easily when I should be writing. :-(
I have a borderline nitwit question, but I'll let you be the judge of that. I would like to waste money turning my novel manuscript into a nice, clean "reading copy" similar to what you'd get at a POD house, but for internal use only. Like an ARC, I'd put Not For Sale on it. The purpose would be to have a book I could share with trusted friends and colleagues whose opinions I respect, without having to send out a bunch of unwieldy, loosely bound manuscript pages. And yes it's purely psychological, but it would be useful for me to see the novel in a novel-like format. Of course, I don't intend to send this "reading copy" to an agent or publisher, unless they requested it over the other, more traditional format. (NEVER send this even if you think they're asking for it...they're not)
But my concern is this: would this constitute a publishing event that could in any way jeopardize the rights I hope to sell to a publisher? As long as I don't try to sell the reading copy, am I in the clear?
You're fine. Number the copies and when you sell the novel and become rich and famous, the value of those "prepublished versions" sold at Sothebys will keep us all in champagne for years to come.
And never, ever send a bound reading copy to an agent. If you don't know why, you can ask, but think about it for a second, ok ten seconds, and you'll figure it out.