The O'Brien Press: A Brief Introduction
In Short ...
The O’Brien Press has been publishing great books for more than 40 years. We believe in our authors and take a long-term view of their writing careers, with careful editing, beautiful design and energetic marketing and sales. The awards these books have won are testament to this. Nearly half the books we have published are still available: that’s over 700 titles, with over 250 available as eBooks. We want the widest possible exposure for our books and have an extensive network of quality international rights agents: over 500 live contracts for books in translation into over 50 languages and territories worldwide. O’Brien Press regularly attends the world’s major bookfairs in Frankfurt, London and (for children’s books) Bologna, working to extend and expand this reach.
Innovation is essential for survival, and we have regularly broken new ground in publishing. The first in Ireland to publishing for children with a long term strategy, we are the country’s leading publisher of books for young people. The first to publish true crime, to create quality graphic novels and to explore many other genres, we are not afraid of a challenge! The O’Brien Press is truly independent and committed to our mission of putting great stories into the hands of readers of all ages.
What we stand for
The O’Brien Press has been publishing great books for more than 40 years. We believe in our authors, and take a long-term view of their writing careers: nearly half the books we have published are still in print - that’s more than 750 titles, with over 300 also available as eBooks. We are renowned for giving our authors insightful editing, beautiful design and energetic marketing and sales, and the many awards our books have won over the years are testament to this. We strive for the widest possible market for our authors and have an extensive network of international rights agents representing our books for all major languages and territories. We regularly attend the key bookfairs in Frankfurt, London and (for children's books) Bologna, and we have had more than 500 (and counting!) foreign editions of O'Brien Press books published in 40 languages.
Always innovative, we have regularly broken new ground in publishing here. The first in Ireland to take publishing for children seriously, we are the country’s leading publisher of books for young people. The first to publish true crime, the first to create quality graphic novels, the first to explore many other genres - we are always up for a challenge! The O’Brien Press is truly independent and committed to putting great books into the hands of readers of all ages.
The O'Brien Press was established in 1974 by Michael O’Brien and his father Thomas, evolving out of a family-run printing and type house, and over the past 40 years has established a reputation for quality and excellence in publishing for adults and children.
The O'Brien Press launched its first publication in November 1974. Me Jewel and Darlin' Dublin, written by Éamonn MacThomáis and published while the author was in jail, was an immediate success. It has been reprinted many times, and has become a minor classic. Since then, The O'Brien Press has published nearly 2,000 books.
We have been at the forefront in exploring and developing new areas of publishing, such as sport (Captain Fantastic by Mick McCarthy), true crime (The General by Paul Williams), humorous fiction (The Mammy by Brendan O’Carroll, Ross O’Carroll-Kelly) and humour (a highlight of the last decade has been the Feckin’ Collection, now with sixteen titles: The Feckin’ Book of Irish Slang alone has sold over 60,000 copies).
Today, The O'Brien Press is Ireland's leading independent publisher, with a diverse publishing programme covering many different areas including fiction (both for adults and children), architecture, humour, environmental issues, history, biography, classic literature, autobiography, business, folklore, travel & tourism, art, photography, poetry, sport, music, politics, true crime, reference books and much more.
From the very beginning, The O'Brien Press has been committed to quality in writing, editing, design and illustration. This commitment has been recognised by numerous awards throughout the years including: Bord Gáis Irish Children's Book of the Year (Senior Category), Children's Books Ireland Bisto Book of the Year Award, the Dublin Airport Authority Irish Children's Book of the Year (Junior Category), awards from the Reading Association of Ireland and many others. This has also extended to awards from abroad - The O'Brien Press is the only Irish publisher to have received the prestigious International Reading Association Award. See www.obrien.ie/award-winners for more information.
The book trade is worldwide, and we have always taken this seriously. Our regular attendance at the world's premier bookfairs, in Frankfurt, Bologna, London and elsewhere, has ensured our international profile is significant and gives our authors the best possible chance to have their works travel the world, whether in English or translation. Rights sales are an important aspect of the O'Brien publishing programme. To date, we have sold nearly 500 of our titles into 40 languages worldwide including most European languages and Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Arabic, as well as major English language territories like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain. See www.obrien.ie/rights for more information.
The O'Brien Press was proud to re-launch the independent Brandon Books imprint in 2012. Founded by Steve McDonogh and run from Dingle, Co Kerry, this wide-ranging list regularly broke new ground, until Steve's tragic and untimely death. We continue to publish existing Brandon authors, as well as adding great new talent.
With authors such as Frank McGuinness, Mary Morrissy, Sam Millar and Alice Taylor, this is a significant area for the future. See www.obrien.ie/brandon/ for more information.
Classic Irish Writing
In 2013, we fulfilled James Joyce's wish to be published in Dublin with The Dublin Illustrated Edition of Ulysses in collaboration with the James Joyce Centre with an introduction by Bob Joyce and illustrations by Emma Byrne. Joyce's Dubliners was published by The O'Brien Press in 2012 as part of Dublin’s One City, One Book project. Oscar Wilde's masterpiece The Picture of Dorian Grey and Oscar Wilde: Stories for Children have also been published by The O'Brien Press.
In 2009 we launched Blood Upon the Rose – Easter 1916 by Gerry Hunt and our graphic novel list rapidly expanded into historical biography, legend, children’s fiction and literary biography, incorporating the talents of Damien Goodfellow, Will Sliney, Alfonso Zapico, Alan Nolan and others.
When we started to publish children's books there was little activity in the area, and most children's books were imported. We decided to change that, and children's books, covering the complete age range from toddlers to teens, now form a major part of our publishing programme. Our children's books have garnered many awards, and continue to head the Irish Children's Bestseller lists. One of the most popular books for young readers has been Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon-McKenna, published in 1990, winner of two international awards and No. 1 on the Bestseller list for two years. It has been printed over thirty times, has been made into a film and is available in translation in over 15 languages. We are also proud to have been the first publisher for Eoin Colfer, one of the world's leading authors for children.
There are some signature projects of which we are particularly proud, including Something Beginning with P: New Poems from Irish Poets, The Story of Ireland and Sally go Round the Stars.
We continue to find and nurture new writing talent for children.
The O'Brien Press has a policy of commissioning work from established authors as well as encouraging talented new writers, and boasts an author list that includes Frank McGuinness, Alice Taylor, Mary Morrissy, Paul Howard, Colin Murphy, William Trevor, John B. Keane, Brendan O'Carroll, George Otto Simms, Gerry Adams, Marita Conlon-McKenna, Sam Millar, Siobhán Parkinson, Judi Curtin, Celine Kiernan, Marilyn Taylor, Mary Arrigan, Brian Gallagher, Anna Carey and many others.
The O'Brien Press aims to continue to pursue a policy of excellence and diversity in both adult and children's publishing in the years to come.