Only a few months ago, I was not aware of Bison Books Ltd., London, England. In September, I came across a large format, thin art book on Schiele (1990). I picked it up, thinking it would be a run of the mill, discount art book. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a very well-made book, well written and the quality of the illustrations was high. The pages measured 362mm X 260mm (14.25” X 10.25”). Due to its height, I tucked it in at the end of a row of art books.
In October, I came across a book on Rodin (1992). The publisher, Bison Books, rang a bell, as did the size and format of the book. And the same high quality. So, I stuck this book beside the Schiele.
This past Tuesday, I came across a book on Dali (1990). Large and thin, I said to myself this must be a Bison book! And it was. So now there are three large skinny books side by side in the stacks. And when I checked the price I put on each one of them, independently, they were the same too - $50. Earlier today, I thought well – I will do up a musing on Bison Books. One thing that intrigued me was the constant format, that makes production runs much more efficient if you can keep print runs a constant size. Oh, and both the Schiele and Rodin were written by the same author, Tim Marlow. I have seen various printers leverage formats in their print production, in fact, I mentioned this in my musing on Taschen not too long ago. Here in Nova Scotia, Nimbus does it too. Are all of Bison’s books the same shape and how long have they been around anyway?
My on-line research this afternoon revealed that the company was incorporated in 1973 and, alas, was dissolved in the mid-nineties. Evidently, efficient print runs were not enough to sustain them. Then I poked around Abebooks, to see what other books they had done and would they be in the same format. One of the first books I saw listed was a history of the Samurai (1988), and right away, I realized we have a copy of that book. But I was sure it was not the same format so, down to the book room I went. Sure enough, it was smaller, but priced the same at $50. And I remember when I picked that book up, back in August, I was surprised at the high quality of the production which is why I purchased it.
And now I have this 2020 purchasing pattern – a Bison book in August, September, October and November. I wonder what Bison book I will find in December and I wonder what price I will put on it?