It would be easy to frame the history of Irish book publishing as a simple tale of David against Goliath, the plucky Irish upstart against the ‘overmighty neighbour’. Yet, as Tony Farmar shows in his new book on the subject, the actual story is far more complex.
The relevant act was not extended to Ireland, and Irish publishers found themselves in the favourable position of being able to select successful London titles and republish them with no requirement to pay the original author or publisher. This loophole inevitably meant these Irish published books slipped back into the English market, despite the practice being strictly forbidden in 1739.
As is well known, the Act of Union of 1800 had a devastating effect on nascent Irish industries. In textiles, for example, where Irish business had been thriving, reduced tariffs on British imports and heavy taxes on Irish companies combined to wipe out local production.