The Safari Press Story
Safari Press has been lauded by many in the industry as the premier publisher of big-game hunting, wingshooting, and sporting-firearms books in the United States. Starting from very meager beginnings in a small garage of a townhouse, the company has grown to where it now occupies thousands of square feet of offices and warehouse space and has some seventeen employees. We at Safari Press believe this is not the vision or work of one individual but rather the cumulative efforts of all the people who have worked for the company since its inception. Equally, and even more importantly, it is the cumulative efforts of the dozens and dozens of authors, artists, and photographers who have produced the raw product that we have forged into books.
In May 1984 we issued a small, dark green catalog under the name World Wide Hunting Books. The logo was that of a white rhino on a shield. World Wide Hunting Books sold (and still does) antiquarian big-game hunting books by issuing a catalog about four times a year. In 1985 we published our first book, which was a reprint entitled African Hunter by James Mellon. We adopted the name Safari Press and used the rhino logo from WWHB. Only one book, African Hunter, was published in 1985, but the next year saw the publication of White Hunter by John Hunter and Horned Death by John Burger. In 1987 we released five titles including With a Rifle in Mongolia by Count Hoyos-Sprinzenstein, From Mt. Kenya to the Cape by Craig Boddington, and Hunting on Three Continents by the late Jack O’Connor, which was a compilation of stories from Petersen’s Hunting magazine.
From this small beginning, the company has grown till today when we have published over three hundred titles and printed over a million copies of our books. We started the business in Seal Beach, California, and we remained there until 1990 when we moved to a commercial office and warehouse in Huntington Beach. Initially we occupied one unit in a building, but over time, thanks to a landlord who was kind and a sportsman to boot, we came to occupy the entire building. In 1992 the business was incorporated as Safari Press Inc.
The emphasis of the press was African big-game hunting from the outset, but soon we published our first sporting-firearms book by Craig Boddington, which was entitled Safari Rifles. From there we branched out to wingshooting, North American and Asian big game, and mountain hunting. Safari Press has grown exponentially from those early days, and we believe that the strength of the press has been to stick with what we know. From the beginning, we had writers and editors who understood narrative for big-game hunting, sporting firearms, and wingshooting. We, by and large, stayed away from how-to hunting books and published books on deer hunting sparingly. It is not that we lacked expertise in these areas or that the subject matter was not worthwhile. We simply felt that how-to and deer-hunting books were so well covered by other publishing companies that we needed to pursue other opportunities.
As you look through our selection of books, you can see that we have produced many different titles. With the exception of three books—White Hunter by John Hunter, Horned Death by John Burger, and After Big Game in Central Africa by Edouard Foa—all our limited edition books have been original titles not published before in the English language. All our limited edition books are numbered and most have been signed by the author(s). Virtually all limited edition books were issued with a slipcase. Besides a series of limited editions, we have issued many regular trade edition books in either hardcover with a jacket or softcover. Some of our most popular titles in units sold fall in this latter category.
We are particularly pleased to tell you that Safari Press has now produced more original, limited edition titles than either Amwell Press or the original Derrydale Press. The truth of the matter is that a publishing company has a very hard time making a living off publishing limited edition books alone. The last one hundred years has seen various American sporting publishers struggle and, sadly, also fail by publishing limited editions only. Safari Press’s strategy from the beginning has been to publish both limited and trade edition books. It has been a good mix for the company.
Let’s say a word about the trade editions that have never been published in a limited edition. There is, of course, irony in the fact that several of our all-time best sellers in both units sold and dollars generated were never issued as limited editions. There is good reason for this: They were simply never suitable to be limited editions. Take Ammo & Ballistics by Robert Forker for instance. The book has seen numerous printings, and the fifth edition was released in 2012. It was never even issued in a hardcover; from day one it was a softcover book. Are we glad we published it? Absolutely, but to have issued this book in a limited edition as a collector’s item would have bordered on effrontery.
Safari Press will continue to adapt and expand its publishing program to keep up with the times. We have published audio books as well as eBooks books that are available for download from the Internet as well as in printed format. As many of our customers know, we purchased a magazine—Sports Afield, no less—and we see ourselves continuing to expand a variety of products that cater to the hunter and sporting-firearm enthusiast. However, the core of Safari Press shall remain its limited editions. The most famous people in the hunting world have contributed to these series—Prince Abdorreza, Craig Boddington, Peter H. Capstick, Robin Hurt, and Tony Sanchez-Ariño, just to name a few. We will continue to seek out and then produce the very best there is in hunting literature for our reading public.