The Dublin Review of Books launched online in 2007 because of the digital possibilities offered by virtually free worldwide distribution, its editor Maurice Earls said last night.
Speaking at the launch of Space to Think, a collection of essays from the Review, he said that the digital edition had liberated the publishers from print bills "which would surely have sunk us, since we don't have advertising and we don't charge."
In the digital age there is little point in publishing a book unless one goes to the trouble of making it a beautiful object, he pointed out.
And Space to Think is indeed a lavish and tactile production.
It will be available in bookshops from October for €25 or can be pre-ordered online for €20.
A large crowd gathered at the Irish Architectural Archive on Merrion Square in Dublin last night to celebrate the launch.
Distinguished contributors to Space to Think include Roy Foster, Terry Eagleton, Denis Donoghue, Lara Marlowe, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, the late Adrian Hardiman, Catriona Crowe, Pádraig Yeates and Siobhán Parkinson.
Topics vary from The letters of Samuel Beckett, The life of Seamus Heaney, The law and Ulysses, The politics of George Orwell, Kevin Barry’s Beatlebone, The American crime novel, courtship in Jane Austen’s England, Irish prisoners of war in WWII to The Ryanair experience.
The Dublin Review of Books was started in order to publish informed and imaginative essays and commentary on Irish and international subjects.
Fellow editor Enda O'Doherty said that the review essay format can run from 2,500 to 4,500 words.
He quoted British literary critic Frank Kermode as saying that it is "a very satisfactory genre", occupying a comfortable middle ground between the brief notice of a newspaper review and the lengthy detail of an academic paper or lecture.
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To date, the DRB has published over 1,000 essays, from 360 contributors.
The publication is submission-driven and all offerings are considered whether from undergraduates or retired professors.
Only those who make a living from writing are paid for their contributions.
The fact that so many people are willing to write on a pro bono basis proves that there is real interest in thinking about ourselves and our culture in a creative and imaginative way, Maurice Earls said last night.
He thanked the Arts Council for their financial support in the venture.