Balfour began as a clerk in his brother-in-law Gavin Hamilton's bookshop, joining him for a time in partnership. With the printer Patrick Neill, their academic press published student texts and reprinted classics, including Scotland's first edition of Shakespeare’s works. They mentored Smellie, with whom Balfour subsequently collaborated on the first Gaelic New Testament. While promoting Scottish literature, Balfour also became Scotland's foremost importer of French books.
From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.