Bison Books publishes into 50th year


For turning the big 5-0, paperback books have never looked so good.

Bison Books, the University of Nebraska Press paperback arm, is celebrating 50 years of publishing some of Western literature's most iconic and valued stories.

"It's an opportunity to look back at all of the contributions to affordable literature that Bison Books has made over the past 50 years," said Cara Pesek, NU press publicity manager.

To coincide with the 50th anniversary celebration, the press is set to release a reader on March 1 that will showcase a variety of work by some of Western literature's most famed authors.

"The reader has excerpts from more prominent authors who have been published by Bison Books like Mari Sandoz, Willa Cather, John Neihardt and Wright Morris," Pesek said.

In addition to the reader, the press plans to republish books that helped develop and refine the paperback line.
One such title, "Lord Grizzly" written by Frederick Manfred, is an epic Western novel that follows a mountain man throughout his journey of survival after being mauled by a grizzly bear.

"This is an opportunity to reintroduce new editions of some books that have been defining for the Bison Books line over the past 50 years," Pesek said.

To encourage audience interaction, the press is sponsoring 12 Months of Bison on its website. Visitors can check out the month's specials and contests for Bison Books prizes.

University faculty and staff members were also sent calendars featuring images from various NU Press books and highlighting dates significant to Bison Books' history.

"Through the calendar, the specials on our website and particularly through the reader, we want people to know about the (Bison Books) paperback line and its various genres that have become well known," Pesek said.

At the time of its inception in 1961, Bison Books was a nontraditional response to a demand for scholarly, yet affordable, literature. Copies of paperback publications were initially sold in drugstores, truck stops and other unconventional outlets.

"Even as we've seen huge changes in the book industry, Bison Books was a good idea 50 years ago, and is still a good idea," said Donna Shear, director of the NU Press. "It endures."

With the popularity of handheld reading devices on the rise, Bison Books is ready to stay true to its founding purpose while embracing 21st century technology.

"Keeping in mind that these are historic times in book publishing, the challenge will be to continue the mission of Bison Books - to bring classic and western literature to the American public inexpensively - by making our books technologically accessible, whatever form that technology takes," Shear said. "A good, classic book is a book that should still be read three generations from now, and we want to make sure they are."

- Mekita Rivas, University Communications