Publishing News: Books Ireland to be given a new lease of life by Wordwell Books

Back on the ladder: Books Ireland, recently acquired by Wordwell Books, has been given a new lease of life.

Back on the ladder: Books Ireland, recently acquired by Wordwell Books, has been given a new lease of life.

IMPASSIONED RESPONSES to the recent closure of Books Ireland flooded the letters pages of the Irish Timesas well as triggering an online campaign through social media, all of which was done in a spirited attempt to save the long- running Irish title from ceasing publication.

Since then, Wordwell Books Ltd have taken up the reins at Books Ireland. Wordwell, which also publishes History Ireland and Archaeology Ireland, as well as specialist books, have been trading for over 25 years.

In 2015, Books Ireland will celebrate its 40th year in print. Speaking ahead of the magazine’s landmark anniversary, Una MacConville, Publishing Manager at Wordwell Books, is optimistic about Wordwell’s recent acquisition of Books Ireland. 

“Wordwell are proud to follow in the footsteps of Jeremy Addis, one of those (largely invisible) people who, through his long-standing commitment to Books Ireland, have contributed significantly to Irish culture for more than 30 years. We have been attempting to do this with History Ireland and Archaeology Ireland and now we look forward to doing it with Books Ireland.”

Books Ireland Mk II

MacConville has confirmed that Books Ireland Mk II will “reflect the ‘world of books’ in Ireland, encompassing a wide coverage of this medium, including reading, writing, making, printing and selling books.”

The material changes to Books Ireland will include:

  1. An increase in the number of pages from 24 to 36, and
  2. Trading as a bi-monthly magazine, which will published in during March/April, May/June, July/August, September/October and November /December of 2014.

Under the editorship of Tony Canavan, who has worked with Jeremy Addis on Books Ireland for many years, MacConville believes that the newly rebranded Books Ireland will provide good- quality thought and rigorous critical analysis from authoritative reviewers in a wide range of genres and modes. MacConville, however, hopes that Books Ireland will be inclusive towards new readers and that the magazine will appeal to a broader audience beyond the niche audience for which it previously catered.

“Books Ireland will aim to be an authoritative vehicle for all matters relating to books—recruiting reviewers and writers who know their subject and have a standing in the area. We will be encouraging our writers to be honest, thoughtful and measured. Our reviews and articles will be substantial enough to be taken seriously, as they should be, but not too wordy or academic.”

One wonders how previous readers and contributors to Books Ireland feel about the acquisition by Wordwell. Leading the charge both in the letters pages of the Irish Times and through an online, social media campaign was Hugh McFadden, former Irish Press journalist and Books Ireland reviewer.

“I’m happy that Books Ireland has been saved and I am quite hopeful, now, about its future. I believe that the new owners, Nick Maxwell and Una MacConville, are very suitable and that their experience in running History Ireland and Archaeology Ireland equips them well to run Books Ireland. And Tony Canavan is a good choice to edit the magazine, as he has been working with Jeremy Addis for some years as an assistant publisher and as a contributor/ reviewer. So, overall, things are looking up for the magazine.”

Print And Be Damned

It is difficult, of course, for print publishers to stay afloat during the current economic climate. Print publishing, especially for niche publishers such as poetry publishers or trade magazine publishers, have struggled to keep printing, with 2013 claiming casualties such as Noel King’s Doghouse and Chris Hamilton- Emery’s Salt, the latter of which announced, earlier this year, that it was to cease publishing single- author collections of poetry and instead focus on poetry anthologies and fiction.

MacConville is no doubt about the challenges ahead for print publishers and sees it as a time for those in publishing and in the arts to stand united and support each other’s endeavours. “We are going to need the support of book readers and writers, makers and sellers. So if anybody wants to be a subscriber, take out an advert, write reviews or grant-aid this important magazine we will be only too pleased. Book publishers will benefit enormously from this initiative.”

All enquiries to Una MacConville (,

Publishing Manager, Books Ireland, Wordwell Ltd,
Unit 9, 78 Furze Road, Sandyford Industrial Estate, Dublin 18.

T: 00353 86 8175530;  E:

Editorial matters will be dealt with by Tony Canavan, the new editor.


Books for review can be sent immediately to: 

Tony Canavan, Editor, Books Ireland, Unit 9, 78 Furze Road, Sandyford Industrial Estate, Dublin 18.

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