Richard Cargill Cole, Irish Booksellers and English Writers, 1740-1800 (London: Mansell Pub.; NJ: Atlantic Heights 1986), 266pp., with index.

CONTENTS: The Irish Reprint Industry, 1740-1800; Irish Readers and Irish Reprints; Irish Booksellers in America, Phases I and II, 1750-1794; Irish Booksellers and the English Novel; Reprinting the Great CHAM and his Satellite; Irish Booksellers and the Historians; Irish Booksellers in America, The Third Wave, 1795-1820; The Three Dublin-Phildelphia Booksellers; A Final Estimate; appendixes [sic] on Irish Editions published by Subscription, 1730-1801; Irishmen in the American Book Trade, 1750-1820; Patrick Byrne’s Reprints in Dublin, 1779-1800; Irish Reprints Consulted for this Work; Index.

Preface cites James A. Phillips, ‘A Bibliographical Enquiry into Printing and Bookselling in Dublin from 1670 to 1800’ unpublished doctoral dissertation of 1952.

ftn22: I am especially indebted to Dr Hugh Amory of the Houghton Library, Harvard, Univ., for his stress on the importance of the Dublin Catalogue for the Dublin Booksellers’ Trade

‘Eighteenth-century reprints of Olivier Goldsmith’s works appear in thirty-seven institutional libaries almost entirely in the United States with 153 copies’ (p.xi).

Cole remarks in the context of the statement that ‘the Irish book trade in the eighteenth century was essentially a reprint industry’ (p.x).

‘A Final Estimate’
Booksellers in Ireland through their cheap reprints contributed significantly to extending British literature, learning, and culture to people in Ireland, Britain and the United States of America who either could not or would not pay for the expensive London editions ... Since they usually paid no copyright and used cheaper materials, they sold their reprints for much less than the London editions, and ... got them into circulation almost as fast. [191] The impact of the Irish reprint industry on the United States book trade was enormous. The Irish book trade was a training ground for at least 101 booksellers, printers, bookbinders, stationers engravers, and auctioneers who joined the American book trade ... such a massive transfer from one national book trade to another is unique in the annals of publishing. These transplanted Irish bookmen imported Irish reprints as did many other American booksellers not of Irish origin until the Act of Union put an end to the reprints. [192.;

It is difficult to see that any of the eight British authors of this study were harmed much by Irish reprints of their works, and a spot-check suggests a comparable conclusion about eight other major British writers of the time ... [194] Since authors sold their copyrights, only London printers would have benefited from the Irish royalties. The Irish reprints undoubtedly gave all eight authors extra publicity that probably translated itself into additional sales ... Goldsmith was apprehensive about the booksellers of his native land, and in 1729 he tried hard to sell the London edition of his Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe in Ireland. [194] ... The London book trade proclaimed loud and long that it was irreparably damaged by the Irish book pirating industry ... But increased publicity because of the Irish reprints must have made up for some of the lost sales and certainly the London publishers benefited hugely from the earning power of such Irish writers as Goldsmith, Arthur Murphy, and Richard Sheridan. They also learned from the Irish reprints that there was a sizeable audience in the English-speaking world for cheap books. Once their claims to perpetual copyright were [195]dismissed by the courts such of their number as the Bells, the Cookes, and the Harrisons were able to earn large profits from their own reprints of older books. The London book trade ultimately suffered far more form the pupils than the masters, since it was the American reprint industry in the nineteenth century with its large Irish contingent that took far more of the London trade’s profits than the booksellers in Ireland would ever have dreamed.

The impact on the Irish reprint of the Irish economy itself was mixed. Without their reprints of the English writers, few Irish booksellers could have survived in the eighteenth century. [196]

The main beneficiaries of the Irish booksellers were two. Readers in Ireland, Britain, and America benefited from the cheap reprints of the major English writers and the cheap British and American reprints modelled after them. The American book trade gained over a hundred Irish Printers [...; &c.]

The Union ... destroyed their livelihood. Ireland thus [198] became the chief loser. Its people were thrown out of work and its educational opportunities were reduced. It is doubtful, however, that booksellers in Ireland had any other option in the eighteenth century except to reprint the English writers. They did what they had to do not only to survive but to prosper for a generation, and the momentum was great enough to allow their trade to limp long through the nineteenth century until the Gaelic revival produced new writers and revived Irish book trade. Perhaps booksellers in Ireland received some vicarious satisfaction as their former colleagues across the Atlantic continued reprinting practices no longer allowed in Ireland, and also contributed significantly to the development of a larger and more important publishing industry. [199; END]

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