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Trade Day 2016 – Interview Series

With the countdown on to Publishing Ireland’s fourth annual Trade Day as part of the Dublin Book Festival, PI decided to warm up our scheduled speaker, Ivan O’ Brien with some questions about the current state of Irish publishing.  

Ivan O'Brien, O'Brien Press
Ivan O’Brien, O’Brien Press


What is the current state of publishing in Ireland and how is it doing compared to other countries?

Ireland has a pretty healthy publishing industry, with some good established players producing some great books. We have a strong and supportive media environment to work in and a public who love to read, despite all the other calls on their time. However, it’s a small industry and is being buffeted by constant disruptions, from eBooks to Amazon and Brexit, so there’s rarely a dull moment! Concentration of power in an ever-smaller number of hands is a real challenge, and our complex relationship with the book industry in Britain means that our business is largely run according to rules set elsewhere: never a comfortable position to be in. Countries with retail price maintenance, better-supported library sectors and more diverse retail landscapes have stronger industries and authors who earn a better living.

Is it important for Ireland to maintain a presence internationally? Why?

 We have always believed that an international presence is very important, both as a company and a nation. A small country’s culture will not be heard above the big international voices without constant reinforcement: books are one of the strongest and most permanent manifestations of that culture and show the world who we are and why they should care.

 What is the best way for Irish publishers do this?

Firstly, network internationally: whether that’s by joining bodies such as the Independent Publishers Guild or attending the major book fairs, if you are talking to people you can learn from them and collaborate with them. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but sows the seeds for strong business relationships when your book gets made into a movie!

What is the biggest misconception about Irish Publishing?

People probably think we’re a lot bigger than we are. The Publishing Ireland survey shows that just over 200 people are employed in Irish trade publishing, which is tiny, considering how many of our companies would be widely recognised.

Many thanks to Ivan for participating. If you want to pick Ivan’s brain, you can book your ticket for Ivan’s afternoon session on protecting your Metadata and Thema and all of our scheduled Trade Day talks here: Reaching Readers.

Click here to view our Full Programme for PI Trade Day 2016