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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.

XIV. Book Production and Distribution, 1625–1800

§ 39. Scotland and Ireland

North of the border, some respectable printing by Robert Urie in Glasgow was followed by the establishment of the classic press of the brothers Robert and Andrew Foulis; and it was John Wilson of Kilmarnock who printed the first edition of Burns’s poems in 1786. But Edinburgh was the headquarters of the Scottish book trade, and the business of printing books for the English market, which afterwards became a great industry, had already begun, though the earlier manifestation of its development—the printing of the cheap books imported into England by Alexander Donaldson and John Bell—did not meet with appreciation from the London trade. In the earlier part of the eighteenth century, the admirable printing done by James Watson and the scholarly press of Thomas Ruddiman foreshadowed the excellence that was to become characteristic of Edinburgh printing; and, when James Beattie was making arrangements for the issue of a subscription edition of his essays in 1776, he was advised to have it printed in Edinburgh, as “it would be more elegantly and correctly done than in London.” In the latter half of the century, William Creech was the leading figure in the Edinburgh trade, and his principal contemporaries were John Balfour, John Bell and Charles Elliot. Archibald Constable entered on his initial venture in publishing just four years before James Ballantyne, of Kelso, made, in 1799, his first experiment in book-printing, which led to the establishment of the famous Ballantyne press.

The dominant names in the Dublin trade during the eighteenth century were those of George Faulkner and Stephen Powell. But, Irish booksellers displayed their activity chiefly in reprinting all the best new English books, both for home use and for export. Since Ireland was outside the scope of the Copyright act, and produced nothing to tempt reprisals, this practice could be pursued with impunity, and the story of eighteenth century literature abounds in complaints against the misdeeds of these pirates.