“Virtually Bison Books” Tours Encourage Readership of Iconic Works

The following is from the University of Nebraska Press Fall 2020 Newsletter, i.e.

Can’t travel because of the pandemic? Tour the American and Canadian Wests and the Mexico borderlands from anywhere with Virtually Bison Books. UNP has developed an electronic portal to the books that preserve the West’s myths, lore, and history. Whether you’re interested in an
historic trail, the lives of settlers, or the Wild West, the virtual tours will deliver the literary
West in new and dynamic ways through Bison Books titles that are available as e-books.*

“The virtual tours are the brainchild of Bridget Barry (editor in chief) and Amy Lage (creative specialist),” said executive editor Clark Whitehorn. “Then they recruited Erica Corwin (electronic marketing coordinator), Rosemary Sekora (publicity manager), and myself to help out,” he said, explaining that despite all of them working remotely, it’s been a fun collaboration. “I pitch tour ideas to the group for subject areas and then write the introductory narrative. Bridget edits my text and makes cuts to the book lists to keep the length manageable. Erica checks on “Virtually Bison Books” Tours Encourage Readership of Iconic Works electronic book availability and rights, Amy selects a tour image and creates the map, and Rosemary then reaches out to authors who are included in a particular tour to ask them to blog or promote their book in some way.”

Collectively, the group discusses possible themes and timing for the tours: Women’s West, Western Trails, Military West, and so forth. The Press is launching a new tour every four to six weeks. The Backcountry Bisons tour, for example, includes books on hiking, canoeing, and other outdoor activities.

One of the Press’s goals for this project is to encourage local museums, historical societies, and retail outlets to engage with the themes of the tours, which relate to our Western backlist. We want the tours to generate public interest, author participation, and, of course, sales. Once museums and other venues reopen, we hope they will feature in their physical locations print versions of the Bison Books titles that are included in the virtual tours.

“The virtual tour is one way to highlight the ongoing contributions of Bison Books to classrooms, local history, and general entertainment,” said Press director Donna Shear. “I’m impressed and proud of the creativity and commitment of this group to bringing classic Bisons to—no pun intended—virtually everyone.”

*We are unable to include Bison Books titles that are not available as e-books on these virtual tours. Some of these are classic works, such as Down the Santa Fe Trail and into Mexico: The Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin, 1846–1847, to which UNP does not hold the electronic rights. In other cases, the books haven’t yet been converted to e-books (a project that Friends of UNP is underwriting). As we acquire more funding and are able to convert more of the Bison Books backlist to e-books, we will add the titles to the virtual tours.

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