Mohr Siebeck is an independent, family-owned publisher. Founded in 1801, its aim is to publish academic works of enduring quality.
As a publishing house, we have been serving artibus ingenuis – the »noble arts« – for many years. But the type of service to the humanities has changed, particularly in the wake of digitization. Early on, we offered our content electronically in addition to print, initially on aggregator platforms such as Ingenta and Proquest. Then in 2018, we launched our own eLibrary on mohrsiebeck.com, which meant a significant increase in usage for our eBooks and journals. The digital availability of our publications revealed its value especially during the Corona pandemic, when access to libraries and books there was temporarily restricted.
However, digitization also enables a growing number of business models which allow us to meet the individual interests of our various customer groups. Libraries, for example, can now acquire electronic content on a permanent basis according to a wide variety of criteria (periodical/subject/volume) or purchase access on a time-limited basis. In addition to electronic varieties of classic collection building, digitization has also enabled a really big change: open access (OA) as a model of free access to research results for users worldwide. While scholarly publishers have traditionally been able to cover their costs at least proportionally through sales or subscriptions, the challenge is now to establish business models suitable for OA that maintain a publisher’s economic stability. In addition to consortium and crowdfunding models, it is currently still predominantly the authors themselves (possibly supported by grant providers) who remunerate the publisher for its expenses when publishing in OA. The criterion for deciding on a publisher is thus increasingly the service related to the publication itself. Therefore the role of the »service provider« comes to the fore, whereby the challenge is to maintain the classic role of a publisher, namely to stimulate, select and disseminate a program of excellent works and contributions.
For Mohr Siebeck, this is an opportunity – after all, service to scholarship has always been at the heart of everything we do. In order to be able to make our authors a fair and transparent offer for the world of OA as well, we have developed an OA model for books in recent months which is modular in structure and also includes a variant without OA. We have presented our concept to a group of selected authors from various disciplines, and their reactions show us that we are on the right track.
If you would like to be kept up to date on our OA news, the best way to do so is to sign up for our newsletter: www.mohrsiebeck.com/newsletter.
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 2/2023 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
The year 2022, in which I took over the helm of Mohr Siebeck, has flowed into an identical digit anniversary – or a »Schnapsjubiläum« as the Germans would call it – of some 222 years. That is how long it has been since J.C.B. Mohr laid the foundation stone of our publishing house in 1801. And while as the new managing director this lengthy history fills me with humility, at the same time it gives me a mandate to make our ship seaworthy for the future – and to do so in turbulent times. Rising paper and production costs, declining library budgets, and the ongoing consolidation of the publishing industry – these are just some of the developments to which we, as an independent, family-owned publishing house, must find answers. Digital transformation holds both opportunities and risks. Opportunities lie, among other things, in new forms of publishing and in increasing the efficiency of our processes; risky would be to rely on the wrong technology or to wait too long. Yet in all of this, we are guided by our North Star: our authors. Their trust in our ability to publish their work as well and as widely as possible provides us with orientation in a changing world, in which we too must adapt in order to remain who we are.
It helps that I have already navigated a lot of this world, having started in the academic publishing industry almost twenty years ago. After a Master’s degree in Kiel and Mainz (Eastern European History and Protestant Theology), an MBA in Nyenrode (near Utrecht) and a few years in database sales at Dow Jones in Frankfurt, I moved to the Netherlands in 2004 to join Kluwer Academic (now part of Springer Nature) in marketing. I then worked for almost seven years at Elsevier in Amsterdam, including in library marketing and product management for Scopus. Finally, I moved to Brill in Leiden, first as head of marketing and then as a member of the extended management team, responsible for production, distribution, Brill.com and IT, among other things. These diverse experiences have prepared me for the journey at Mohr Siebeck, which I embarked on in September and where I can rely on a knowledgeable and highly motivated team. Together we will ride the winds of change – in the service of scholarship.
Last but not least, I would like to thank my predecessor Henning Ziebritzki for the smooth handover. My grateful thanks also go to the shareholder family Siebeck for entrusting me with the management of their wonderful publishing house.
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 1/2023 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
What is the significance of traditions for how institutions function? In his ›Towards a Rational Theory of Tradition‹, the philosopher Karl Popper took this question and pointed out connections that have always been particularly important to me.
Traditions, he writes, are an important help in navigating a complex world. After critical examination to see whether they can suggest suitable behaviour for a specific situation, they enable us to build on the experiences of previous generations. Hence we do not always have to start again with Adam and Eve. The same applies to institutions (such as a publishing house). If they have been astutely set up and improved, they offer a good starting point even for new challenges. But for them to function like fortresses – to use Popper’s metaphor - depends above all on how well staffed they are. As I have been less interested in warfare than seafaring during my life, I prefer to imagine a ship which has been designed and built as well as possible, but whose safety depends above all on its crew.
So what does all this have to do with the present and future of a publishing house such as Mohr Siebeck? A great deal, I think.
The current handover of management from Henning Ziebritzki to Ove Kähler sees the first captain entering the bridge who began his publishing career elsewhere. He brings with him all the skills and abilities needed in the rapidly changing world of international publishing. But what he also brings as a historian and a life-long lover of books – and why we as shareholders have entrusted him with Mohr Siebeck’s helm – is a great sympathy for our special tradition: an understanding for the distinctive way of thinking and studying in the academic disciplines we curate and thus the authors we care for, an appreciation of the employees who make such support possible in the first place, and the shared will to do for the good of scholarship not just everything as cheaply as possible, but rather as well as possible. This entails taking risks and learning from inevitable mistakes.
Henning Ziebritzki circumspectly advanced this tradition in recent years, for which we thank him from the bottom of our hearts; we now commend it to Ove Kähler and wish him a good lookout and a hand’s breadth of water below the keel at all times!
with fellow shareholders Amely von Kapff-Siebeck and Josephine Siebeck
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 3/2022 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
As some of you already know, I will be hanging up my hat as managing director of Mohr Siebeck later this year. This is at my own request and in grateful agreement with the shareholders of the publishing house, Dr. Georg Siebeck, Amely v. Kapff Siebeck and Josephine Siebeck. The reason for this step is that I would like to have more time for my personal interests and pursuits. It is all the easier for me to give up and hand over the position because the publishing house is in such a good place in terms of personnel and structure as well as economically: its stability has also grown out of the changes made in recent years to meet the challenges of the market. These include, in particular, the transfer of our warehouse and distribution to a service provider alongside the accelerated sale of digital products, especially via our own eLibrary, which contributed crucially to the result.
All of this was and is supported and shaped by a very competent, committed staff and a second level of management whose members are characterised by expertise, decisiveness and a willingness to take responsibility.
As a friend of institutions, organisations and rules, I am sceptical about any professional interpretation of individuality that does not take into account the working conditions to which it owes its potential to be effective. It does not have to be glorified as a service or serving – it is simply a matter of producing results with your work that seem plausible independently of yourself and, in the best case, remain sustainable for a while. In this sense, it has given me great pleasure to be able to work for Mohr Siebeck – because it embodies a history, a tradition and a programme that fully corresponds to my own intellectual interests and preferences. To what extent I have succeeded in this may be judged by others.
Whether you are among the staff at Mohr Siebeck, the many editors and authors at our publishing house, or the colleagues in the book industry I have had the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with – I would like to thank you all for the wonderful years in publishing.
My successor, Ove Kähler, most recently Vice President Operations at Brill, will step in on 1 September, and as soon as he has familiarised himself with the company, I will take my leave by the end of the year at the latest.
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 2/2022 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
Part of the programme director’s job is to be tirelessly on the lookout for ideas for new titles and to maintain a constant dialogue with others to this end. It is something that also applies to the publishing house as a whole – as a notorious reader of other publishers’ previews, I would be surprised and sceptical if I did not keep coming across new formats, new authors, new bigger projects that advanced the programmes familiar to me in unexpected new ways. A publishing house that does not permanently try to develop the programme that has shaped its profile to date would likely be doomed to failure – it would lose its live wire to the market, to the demands of the time, and to the tastes and interests of its readership. Publishing houses are not institutions for the execution of cultural criticism; they must not shy away from innovations, as long as they fit the programme and are good for business.
It is vital for us as an academic publishing house to reflect ongoing developments in the cultures of the disciplines within our programme – above all the constant differentiation, but also the changes that affect current approaches or publication formats. In philosophy, for example, our programme is being expanded to include the series Reality and Hermeneutics. Bonn Studies in the New Humanities, which aims to re-explore the obligations of objectivity.
This year we would also like Classical Studies to have its own – in the best case, permanent – presence in our programme. Because we have published many individual titles and series in this discipline over the years, we have decided to make it independent of the existing programme. Two international, primarily English-language series, whose announcements can be found on the following pages, will increase the visibility of Classical Studies at Mohr Siebeck: the first is Ancient Cultures of Sciences and Knowledge, a series that is partly based on our already well-established cooperation with scholars in this field, as well as Emotions in Antiquity, for which we have been able to win an advisory board that will tread new ground in working with us for the first time. Additional series are to follow.
And to ensure that the area is clearly cared for and given a face, Tobias Stäbler has been given responsibility as its programme director.
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 1/2022 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
On September 10, the day of the editorial deadline for this issue of the Mohr Kurier, we had a small al fresco party at the publishing house. There was no special occasion – just a wish from the staff to finally get together again with all those who would like to, for a chat, a snack and drinks – after all, the last time we had been able to do this was before the pandemic. The proposal met with great approval. Many wanted to meet colleagues for an exchange that was not shaped by the routines and requirements of everyday work. It was about conviviality, conversation for its own sake, small talk about the sunny or rainy holiday, the Tübingen referendum on a planned city railway, having a chinwag, about interest in others, about a bit of gossip – and not least, on the sidelines, about questions concerning cooperation in the publishing house.
Our late summer soirée showed that an academic press, like any business, is more than an institution in which employees provide services and products according to certain rules for economic reasons. That too, of course – but it can only be successful if the workforce is also a community. For only when understanding for the individual concerns and needs of others arises in the workplace and flows into the teamwork, can solidarity grow. Whether this actually exists becomes apparent in problems, in conflicts, whether small or large, or even in crises. We have managed the period since the beginning of the pandemic with economic success not least because this cohesion exists to a great extent here at Mohr Siebeck. This can be seen in the willingness to help out at another workplace and to take on responsibility when a colleague is absent for whatever reason and a replacement or re-organisation is vital for maintaining operational processes.
Solidarity is not something that makes responsibility possible – but it does invite people to act responsibly. Our publishing house has been set up for decades in such a way that each and every one of us can exercise as much personal responsibility as possible at his or her own workplace – which always includes, as far as justifiable, the economic side of the work. Thus, every programme director and every production manager is also economically responsible for the processes entrusted to them. Perhaps this way of organising the work is also one reason why we work efficiently. In 2020, 50 staff members produced 447 titles – new publications and new editions. This enormous productivity would certainly not have been possible if the work in the publishing house at all levels were not characterised by solidarity and responsibility.
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 3/2021 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
An academic publisher’s program is more than just its showpiece. The titles which a publishing company publishes embody its intellectual tradition as well as its aspiration to help shape those subjects which have found a home in the company. An academic publishing program demands a clearly defined image: This means that the individual books also depict their inner context as well as that which exists between the various subject areas. This ideational coherence can exist formally in the quality of the publications but also thematically in the fact that a publishing company includes certain disciplines and influential authors and not others. Thus a good program also involves rejection, exclusion – otherwise the profile and the recognizability are missing. In the best case the program acquires such an appeal, such dignity and trustworthiness that an interested reader will buy one of its titles because he knows that the publisher vouches for quality. In addition, the publishing program can also be seen as an indication of economic stability, since even if it holds true for every publisher that a good program is not a sufficient condition for economic success – conversely you will be able to say that a publisher without a clearly well-maintained and consistently developed program will in the long run have no economic prospects.
We publish academic qualification papers as well as conference volumes, commentaries, multi-volume works, Festschrifts, monographs and scholarly essays on those subjects dealt with in our publishing house. Dissertations, initially of interest to specialists, are right beside biographies, which are aimed at a wider readership, because combined with the publishing program is the aspiration to consistently publish titles which arouse wider public interest because of their subject and their readily accessible language and which transcend the subject itself. We rely on readers to pick the title in question because of their interest in the subject and in the hope of reading for pleasure, and not primarily because this has been dealt with in a scholarly manner. In this preview there are several books of this genre, above all the biography of Paul Siebeck by Konrad Hammann. We are very grateful that the author, who was associated with us for many years, was on the whole able to complete his work before his death so that we are able to publish it. Highlighting further titles which give the impression of being a non-fiction work would mean neglecting others. Furthermore, it is ultimately the reception anyway which will decide which book reaches a wider readership and which does not, since the predictability of the success of books in an academic publishing company is limited. It is the market which decides, through reviewers, buyers and readers, if a book will be reviewed in a large newspaper, if it will be well received and will sell well.
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 2/2021 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
The year 2020 was an important turning point for Mohr Siebeck, one which could be described by the catchphrase »accelerated digitisation«. Above all and just like many other firms last March, we had to master a massive technological transition within a very short space of time to make it possible for our staff to be able to work from home. Alongside this we also experienced a strong increase in demand for digital products.
Both the re-organisation of processes so work could be done at home as well as expanding our distribution of digital products were already on the agenda. The suddenness with which the pandemic struck saw forces we could neither have foreseen nor controlled accelerate both these planned developments to a degree we could never have imagined. Where our wish had been to introduce working from home through consultation with our staff, measures to keep things running that simultaneously met all the new challenges had to be put in place pronto. This was a success because the desire and readiness to at least partly work from home – workflows permitting – already existed. That we were able to react to the pleasing demand for digital products with corresponding packages was down to the fact that our own eLibrary has been online since 2018.
By way of these developments the new physical state of the publishing house was established much quicker than planned and foundations lain for the way we will work in the future. We were all of the impression that as a consequence of the pandemic, huge energies were mobilized to shape operations. But perhaps what succeeded in above all was to make the changes that were necessary by using our pooled strength much as a martial artist would: we met this huge, unexpected force and rechanneled it meaningfully and purposefully into our own actions. Despite hiccups here and there, this led to 2020 being a decent year for us. Many other companies and branches did not share this good fortune, something we realise and are most grateful for. The pressure to adapt remains and may well increase. However, we are cautiously optimistic that should it be necessary for our organisation and workflows, we will be able to rise to the challenge and meet requisite requirements.
Each of this year’s three Mohr Kurier covers will feature photos of staff workspaces at home.
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 1/2021 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
As Hans Kelsen notes in his autobiography, even before he was »admitted as a private lecturer for constitutional law and philosophy of law« at the University of Vienna in the summer of 1911, his first publication had appeared in 1910 with J.C.B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck): a review of the second edition of Conrad Bornhak’s Allgemeiner Staatslehre (General Theory of the State) in the Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, edited by Werner Sombart, Max Weber and Edgar Jaffé. This was followed by numerous book reviews in the Archiv, and in 1911 Kelsen published his first monograph, Hauptprobleme der Staatsrechtslehre entwickelt aus der Lehre vom Rechtssatze (Main Problems in Theory of Public Law, Developed from Theory of the Legal Statement) with the publishing house in Tübingen. This was followed by several individual titles until 1933, some of which appeared in two editions. The reason why Kelsen stopped publishing with Mohr Siebeck after 1933 is that having gone into exile he was forced to publish mainly in other languages in order to gain scholarly recognition. Although the first edition of Reine Rechtslehre (Pure Theory of Law) was still being published by Deuticke in 1934, in Leipzig and Vienna, the first larger monograph that Kelsen subsequently published appeared in Geneva in 1939 under the title Legal Technique in International Law.
Nevertheless, the publication history that connected Kelsen and Mohr Siebeck until 1933 was to become extremely important for our publishing house in the period that followed. And of course today it is above all the Hans Kelsen Werke that ensure the presence of the author in scholarly discussion. This has been published by Mohr Siebeck since 2007, when Matthias Jestaedt as editor, in cooperation with the Hans Kelsen Institute in Vienna, decided to continue the history of Kelsen’s works by working with Mohr Siebeck. And so the ground was prepared for Thomas Olechowski to entrust us with his monumental Kelsen biography, which was published in May this year.
This shows precisely just how strongly an important author can shape a publishing house’s programme over decades, even with interruptions, directly and indirectly – because to the numerous Kelsen editions, critical studies have also been added and likewise appeared with us. Comparable constellations of the importance of certain authors for a programme can be found in many academic and popular publishing houses. Carl Schmitt, for example, has a similar publication history with the Berlin-based Duncker & Humblot – although his habilitation thesis The Value of the State and the Significance of the Individual was published by Paul Siebeck in 1914. I would therefore like to round off this column by sending warm greetings to our colleagues at Duncker & Humblot.
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 3/2020 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
The programmes of academic publishing houses feature series. But unlike those of other publishers, Mohr Siebeck’s are not only formally or thematically grouped together. A series as published by an academic press is an expression of its special relationship to the academic world. For as a rule, a series represents an academic sub-discipline, such as public law or practical theology, or a larger cross-sectional field that is being dealt with in various areas of related research – in the case of our programme, this includes series such as Schriften zum Recht der Digitalisierung, Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism, or Oriental Religions in Antiquity. The purpose of a series is to bring together studies on an overarching theme that further pursue a fundamental problem in a high quality way. This can be in the form of monographs, but also anthologies with a strict focus, or the collected essays of important scholars. If a series is successfully designed, it can be read as a retrospective of its subject’s history, which not only provides information on the topics addressed, but also on the surrounding constellations of academic politics.
For the academic presentation of a series is – prominent exceptions confirm the rule – in the hands of academia itself: editors review manuscripts and thus make a selection: they sometimes make suggestions for revisions; and above all they actively solicit volumes which they assume will enhance the eminence of the series. In this way, the editorial board ensures the academic quality of the series entrusted to it by the publisher, and, if successful, reinforce one of the greatest intangible assets in scholarly circles: reputation and good name. If our publishing house nevertheless reserves the final decision on publication with a formal veto right for all series, this does not constitute an encroachment on the freedom of the editors, but rather expresses the fact that the publishing house bears the economic risk.
This year, our series Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum neuen Testament will be 70. Founded in 1950 under the aegis of Martin Hengel, WUNT has established itself as one of the leading forums worldwide for research on early Christianity and its environs. Hengel would probably have acknowledged his likeness adorning the Mohr Kurier with a charming and covertly self-ironic quip – and said that it is about things and not people. Which is only half the truth.
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 2/2020 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
Many of our authors and editors who have been guests at our headquarters in Wilhelmstraße will also have been familiar with our warehouse in Tübingen’s Christophstraße. It always made a strong impression that we as a publishing house also stored and distributed the books we produced. The storerooms were an integral part of the press and its identity not only for authors and editors, but for our staff and service providers, too – and that for almost a hundred years, the facility having been set up in 1923. It was at this time that Paul Siebeck’s sons and the publishing house's then managers, Oskar and Werner, bought the site in Christophstraße on which the former factory halls of the Württembergische Fleischwaren Fabrik stood. The buildings, originally used to process sausage and conserved meats, had been put to various other uses before they were converted for the new purpose of storing books – which they did up until last year when their contents were cleared and sent to Sigloch Distribution GmbH & Co. KG for dispatching.
And so as almost a century of history drew to a close, it was decided that a photographic record of the Christophstraße storerooms should be made. The commission went to Heidi Specker, an artist who holds the Professorship of Photography at the Institute for Graphic Design and Book Art in Leipzig, and whose work has been celebrated in a major solo exhibition at the Bonn Kunstmuseum. We were delighted when she agreed to embark on a photographic journey through the Christophstraße and Wilhelmstraße buildings to chronicle the entire publishing house as a work in progress. The result is neither a brochure containing pictures of things supposedly worth looking at or of parts of the buildings and their interiors usually considered attractive, nor is it a documentation aimed at representative completeness or informative correctness. Heidi Specker understood her task to depict as an independent artistic project from which, as so often in her work, a photobook was to be created, a photographic essay that she understands as part of her oeuvre. Initial images from the project graced the covers of last year’s Mohr Kuriers. The book itself is now finished and will be published this spring with the title Mohr Siebeck. Academic Publishing House by the Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König in Cologne.
We are pleased that the now-closed warehouse in Christophstraße has been captured in the form of a book – the storage medium that filled the shelves there for almost a century.
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 1/2020 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
Like many things in our contemporary world, metadata has a history that can be read as a process of specialisation which has become highly complex in its transition to the digital world. That which librarians, publishers, readers and users have to deal with today was originally organised alphabetically or by subject catalogues and presented in book form or on index cards.
The key has always been to give a printed work the right data in order to find it, in a library or a bookstore, which could then be quoted by others to verify they have located the correct title. Many »grey« titles that were published by small presses or were not distributed through book trade channels never appeared in the pertinent catalogues. Which in other words means that the all-encompassing catalogue remained a bibliographic utopia.
With the advent of the online search engine, metadata has taken on a new meaning, becoming as important as the book itself in that it dictates how a title is perceived – what cannot be found on the net is increasingly regarded as non-existent or irrelevant. The amount of metadata in the digital world is growing: images of covers, reading samples, and author biographies are as much a part of it as the author’s name, ORCID, the book’s title, the DOI of a contribution, price, availability, and delivery information. Which title an algorithm finds, how it is assessed and presented, all depends on the quality of the metadata.
For an academic publisher such as Mohr Siebeck, this means that our metadata has to be correct, up-to-date, complete, and easy for machines to read. This does not just apply to our homepage and e-library. The metadata also has to be made available in the most important formats – ONIX for the book trade and MARC for libraries – and fed into the relevant catalogues. In many cases, this work is carried out by specialised discovery services that structure and compile metadata on specific areas of interest and research. We provide the basis for this task by completely reloading the metadata on our website each working day, guaranteeing our titles are both present and easy to find in the digital world.
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 3/2019 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
It is one of our publishing house’s traditional characteristics that the tasks of storing and distributing Mohr Siebeck books and journals have been kept under our own roof. Our main warehouse in Tübingen’s Christophstrasse has been home to a backlist of 6500-plus titles which has ensured its long-term availability, while a store at our main building in Wilhelmstrasse has housed our latest releases and bestselling titles. For us as a publishing house, a book that started as an academic idea and is then physically present in the publishing house is a constant symbolic reminder of how it has been created.
But as pleasing as this may be – and it is a symbolism that certainly appeals to me – the warehouse and its operation have grown long in the tooth. Modern warehousing demands, the two separate storage areas, and a marked increase in production to over 400 titles a year have all put a strain on the space available and led to ever more complex logistics. Added to this is the fact that there is not a digital merchandise management system linking the warehouse and distribution processes into the software that adjacent departments such as production, marketing and sales, and customer service work with.
At the end of the day, the question had to be asked whether it is necessary for a publisher to have its own warehouse when book-related services like typesetting, printing and binding have all long since been bought in from specialised providers. Having thoroughly considered all these matters last year, we decided to entrust a service provider with the storage and distribution of our books.
We are now pleased to announce that from July the 1st, 2019, Sigloch Distribution GmbH & Co KG, one of the best addresses for publishing logistics, will be working with us in these areas. The whole ordering process will remain in the hands of our own customer service department, ensuring that you as customer can still get in touch with us personally and directly.
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 2/2019 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
Große und substantielle Teile der Arbeit, die in unserem Verlag zu einer Publikation führen, finden nicht im Verlagsgebäude statt. Das sind nicht nur die zahlreichen Dienstleistungen, die externe Lektoren, Setzer, Drucker, Buchbinder und IT-Unternehmen für uns ausführen. Zentral für die Entstehung unserer Bücher und Zeitschriften ist auch unsere Teilnahme an Fachtagungen und größeren Kongressen, die in Regie der betreffenden Wissenschaften stattfinden. Diese sozialen Formate haben in allen Wissenschaften, die wir verlegen, in den letzten Jahren einen beispiellosen Aufschwung erlebt, der weiter anhält. Die Gründe dafür sind vielfältig – sie reichen von der Spezialisierung der Wissenschaften über die Etablierung von Generationenprojekten wie Nachwuchstagungen und einmaligen Jubiläumsveranstaltungen bis zu den Traditionen, in denen turnusmäßig wiederkehrende Fachkongresse stehen. Die Möglichkeit, heute vielfach digital kommunizieren zu können, hat jedenfalls nicht dazu geführt, daß die Anzahl solcher gewissermaßen leibhaften Treffen abnimmt. Das Gegenteil ist der Fall. Nicht nur, daß persönliche Kontakte und vor allem der schöne Zufall der Begegnungen auch in Zeiten technischer Kommunikation kreativ unersetzbar sind; es gibt zudem eine noch vor Jahrzehnten undenkbare Bereitschaft, auch kürzere Reisen über große Distanzen zu machen, wenn nötig, sogar kurzfristig – man fliegt ebenso übers Wochenende in eine weit entfernte Metropole wie beruflich für ein paar Tage nach Johannesburg oder Moskau.
Für Mohr Siebeck als Verlag, der sich als Dienstleister der Wissenschaften versteht, bedeutet das, dort zu sein, wo sich unsere Herausgeber und Autoren treffen. Denn auf den Tagungen und Kongressen werden Ideen entwickelt – oft spontan in der Geselligkeit am Rande –, Pläne entworfen und größere Langzeitvorhaben wie Buchreihen oder Kommentare ausführlich besprochen. Dazu kommt, daß solche Veranstaltungen Drehscheiben für unsere Kollegen aus dem Vertrieb und der Lizenzabteilung sind, weil dort Buchhändler, Kollegen aus anderen Verlagen und Dienstleister wie Übersetzer und freie Lektoren zu treffen sind. Unsere Arbeit ist daher, vor allem für die Mitarbeiter in Lektorat, Marketing und Vertrieb, wesentlich mit der Teilnahme an wissenschaftlichen Veranstaltungen verbunden. So haben Kollegen von uns im letzten Jahr – um nur eine kleine Auswahl zu nennen – die Assistententagung Öffentliches Recht in Regensburg, die North American Patristic Society in Chicago, den Kongreß der Gesellschaft für Analytische Philosophie in Köln und den Historikertag in Münster besucht. Und die Tagungen, die wir für dieses Jahr eingeplant haben, führen Verlagsmitarbeiter zum Beispiel nach Bayreuth und San Diego, Rom und Marburg sowie nach Aberdeen und Berlin. Gemeinsam ist all diesen Orten, daß sie Teile eines globalen Netzwerks von Hochschulen sind, an denen die Wissenschaften betrieben werden, die unsere Programmbereiche bilden.
Indem wir uns weltweit auf den Weg zu den Orten machen, an denen unsere Herausgeber und Autoren beruflich zusammenkommen, erlebt unser Verlag eine zunehmende Internationalisierung. Sie ist der Grund dafür, daß wir – wie viele deutsche mittelständische Unternehmen – ein Doppelgesicht haben: Wir sind fest verankert in unserer Region und im heimischen, deutschsprachigen Umfeld, aber die Produkte, die wir »entwickeln«, herstellen und verkaufen, führen uns auf einen globalen Markt. Beides wird auch in Zukunft gelten: in Tübingen zuhause sein, und unsere Präsenz in den nationalen und internationalen Kontexten der Wissenschaften ausbauen und verstärken.
Was diese Reisetätigkeit für die geistige Arbeit bedeutet, steht auf einem anderen Blatt. Denn vielleicht bleibt die Möglichkeit von kontinuierlichem kreativem Schaffen an die stabilitas loci und die damit verbundene Muße gebunden – und sei es die Zeit, die man zwischen zwei Reisen hat.
[ Veröffentlicht im Mohr Kurier 1/2019 ]
While many other publishing houses use service providers to sell their digital content to libraries and other institutional customers, early in 2016 Mohr Siebeck made the decision to take on this task itself. We were convinced that we would be able to react better to the needs and wishes of our customers if we were in direct contact with them about digital deliveries.
With our new eLibrary, the result of our thoughts and efforts has now gone online. One special feature of this service is that the eLibrary has been completely integrated in our homepage under www.mohrsiebeck.com. Our customers and readers therefore have one-stop internet access to both our website and the new eLibrary – a solution that demands complex interplay between various technical systems such as, among others, our online-shop, the editorial system of the homepage, the online library for the use of digital content, and our newsletter. This complexity is also the reason for the start-up difficulties we experienced. These problems have now been sorted, and we would like to thank all our customers for their patience and forbearance. However, in case further glitches occur, we would be very grateful for alerts via firstname.lastname@example.org
For the humanities we undertake to publish, their content and communication, there is an exponentially increasing tendency that is sure to determine progress in the near future: quod non est in internet, non est in mundo academio. One or two of our authors and editors will view this development, as I do, with ambivalence because of the pros and cons each advancement brings with it. As a publishing house providing services to academia though, our purpose and aim is to harness the associated potential and opportunities that such developments represent. And it is for this reason that we look forward to being able to make new offers through the eLibrary in the form of, for example, digital book bundles, which, we hope, will interest our customers and readers worldwide.
Alongside tolle, lege, we now also invite you to log in and read.
[ Written for the Preview 3/2018 ]
Academic books take time. They are not written quickly, but are the result of long-term deliberation and devising of concepts, intensive reading, other research undertaken at least partly in archives, and preparatory work in the form of essays or lectures.
It is often a fellowship or a residency in the intellectually stimulating atmosphere of a research institute that finally allows such works to come to fruition. This applies in particular to larger projects such as monographs, biographies, editions of complete works, translations and commentaries.
But composing commissioned essays for handbooks and collected volumes takes time too, of which the author also has to be given enough; generally about a year. It is for this reason that when we discuss larger projects, mapping them out and agreeing on them together with our editors, we are prepared to take the time it takes to create these academic works.
In contrast, and because it is in the best interests of authors and their careers, submitted manuscripts, especially for the likes of doctorates and conference volumes, are published as quickly as possible. That said, it can also happen here that several years pass between the first point of contact and the date of submission.
Books we are to publish in 2018 therefore owe much to preparation done years, in some cases even decades, in advance. In turn, many other volumes currently in the pipeline will not appear for several years. An added unknown factor is that of the unsolicited manuscript yet to arrive - though without a doubt we will once again manage to publish by autumn something first received in the spring.
The task of scheduling the program becomes more complicated still when manuscripts are not handed in on time – a frequent occurrence when unforeseen hurdles in the form of practical problems arise, or because the academic author is, naturally enough, very much tied to meeting the immediate demands of everyday university and scholarly life, or because new findings made by the author see the focus of interest shift to other subjects and themes.
Delays in submitting manuscripts for single-author books only affect the press’s annual plan. Where potential for conflict can arise and the situation can become a delicate one is when the slowest author in a team working on the likes of a commentary, guide, or collection dictates the pace of the whole undertaking. Here, the worst case scenario is when a manuscript is delivered so late that all other punctually submitted contributions have to be updated. But even this is not an insurmountable problem if all those involved have the publication of the volume at heart – or the editor is not bashful about putting a firm diplomatic word in the right ear at the right time.
This means that our staff have to be kitted out with a diverse set of essential skills. Most important is that we remain faithful to our authors by being patient and understanding when there are delays. In the vast majority of cases, it is the author who is existentially concerned with the completion of the work and its publication. Whoever is responsible for the program in question must therefore have sure instincts and the tact to know just when and how they ought to intervene. Such a move is in everyone’s interest where the publication of a multi-authored work is at stake. Though here, too, the principle of waiting for the slowest still applies. Academic books keep their own time – and publishers can only be assured of economic success if program managers succeed in maintaining a stockpile of projects.
As soon as a manuscript is ready for typesetting or printing, a new phase begins, the pace quickens and things change in a flash. Authors, program and production managers are then united in the common aim of producing and publishing the book as swiftly as possible – something we gladly and repeatedly pull out all the stops to do as a service for our authors and editors.
[ Written for the Preview 1/2018 ]
There is an interplay between institutions or companies and those who work in them and act on their behalf. While on the one hand every organisation tries to operate so that it does not rely on any single individual, on the other it is precisely the actual person who gives it a face. For it is the individual’s aptitudes and skills, their virtues and characteristics that help shape the undertaking they work in. This applies even more the higher the position occupied and the stronger a person's particular character traits. When the greater good benefits from this over a longer period of time, it can be said that the person has made a lasting impression or, in the best case, characterised an era.
Dr. Franz-Peter Gillig has been a key figure for Mohr Siebeck and to have found such a colleague was, as the publisher Dr. Georg Siebeck stressed many times, a stroke of luck. Franz-Peter Gillig joined the publishing house on September 1, 1982, initially as editor of the JuristenZeitung before becoming chief editor in sole charge of the entire law programme on July 1, 1990, and ultimately being appointed managing director on September 15, 2005. Being in charge of the whole programme, he not only launched many series, such as – to name but a few without wishing to exclude those not mentioned - Jus Publicum, Jus Privatum and Jus Poenale, but also initiated or helped shape weighty commentaries on the likes of the German constitution, the German Civil Code, the Civil Process Order, or, most recently, on European Law. Because he was the first specialist editor in the previously exclusively publisher-led press, his work here also provided a model and orientation for other subsequent programme areas and their editors. If his responsibility for the largest programme area and his competencies saw him become the publisher’s right-hand man, his appointment as managing director saw Dr. Gillig formally able to co-determine the fate of the entire press. His part in developing the press over the years was therefore a fundamental one.
Dr. Gillig's career spanned from the end of the old German Republic right up to the present day, a time in which the transition to a specialist press providing a consistent service to the research it publishes was completed. For this process, Dr. Gillig's contribution as chief editor and managing director was, alongside others, crucial. It is not only the law programme that bears his hallmark, reflects the diversity of his contacts and shows his high regard for quality - his programme being the largest and his role being a dual one meant that all his considerations and decisions have always focused on the well-being of the press as a whole, and thus his impact on it throughout his career can hardly be overstated. Coupled with this are the logical alignment of the programme and its expansion to include fields such as history, along with the internal division of publishing work into various tasks and editorial responsibilities plus the transition to new digital processes currently being introduced in all departments.
That I greatly enjoy working with Dr. Gillig and can imagine no better colleague has often brought to mind an observation made by Ernst Jünger in Subtile Jagden (1967): "The great man is less recognisable in that he has more space, but rather that he has more time than others." Dr. Gillig might very well not have the largest office in the publishing house, but he would deny that he has more time than others. And yet precisely therein lies his art of living: to give the other the impression that now is the time for the current problem and questions to be dealt with. Time and again I have been amazed at Dr. Gillig's well-informed, quick-witted and attentive individual approach to his counterparts, whether within the press itself, or in talks with other publishing colleagues, with service providers, with customers, or with authors and editors. The beauty of this is that a lifetime's professional achievement reveals itself to be nothing less than the sum of numerous constructive conversations and the deliberations and decisions bound up with them.
On September 1, 2017, Dr. Gillig is to retire from his duties at Mohr Siebeck. During 35 years of endeavour as law editor, he has created a lifework which can likewise be understood as the yield of a subtle hunt; that is, the one for excellent contents: the entirety of all the juristic books and journals that appeared in his time. This result is more than just impressive and for that, Mohr Siebeck will remain ever grateful to Franz-Peter Gillig.
Chief Editor Theology & Jewish Studies
[ Written for the Preview 2/2017 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
Besides authors, editors and editorial departments, producing a publication involves external service providers such as printers and setters. And at the interface coordinating the whole process between these parties is the production department. While a production manager ten years ago was almost exclusively occupied with calculating books, scheduling their production, and controlling costs and deadlines, the working day has since – in keeping with changes in the publishing industry – been transformed. Mohr Siebeck’s production managers no longer only master business and typography challenges, but also need to understand questions about technology and content. The development of e-books having to be sold alongside print products confronts publishing with the task of preparing and keeping a stock of media-neutral content. But what does this mean for authors and readers?
Each medium places special demands on the content that is to be published. It is not easy, for example, to generate bookmarks, automatic references and registers for an e-book from a normal print product setting file. These functions, which are what give electronic books their added value, have to be individually populated. In order to generate various products from a unified database in the future, Mohr Siebeck is currently installing an XML-based content management system. A structured database like this stores content centrally in a media-neutral format and allows it to be adapted to the relevant output medium through automated processes.
The introduction of these new structures has created new challenges for a traditional academic publisher. The partial automation accelerates preparation in production and enables a steadily increasing number of new titles to be published. On the other hand, the reader can expect a product with highbrow content that is easy to read and take in whatever the edition’s form. Above all though, our main concern is that each author whose work we are entrusted with publishing should receive the best possible individual support during production.
Is standardisation of complex academic texts at all possible, and, if so, at which point in the production process should it be applied? Gauging this is the production manager’s main task. The structure of the text is appraised and the manuscript prepared so that it fits into the specified layout. Individual features – for example, offsetting or complicated tables – are identified and highlighted because each peculiarity in the manuscript blocks setting automation and often leads to reworking by the setter, the production manager, or sometimes even the author. By supplying document templates which automatically store structural characteristics when a text is being written, the author can be actively involved in the process early on. The result is a well-structured basis for producing content efficiently in visually appealing print and digital forms.
Finding the right mix of standardisation, automation and individuality is the key to a publication’s economic success. The production manager decides on the basis of the text and the data situation what is possible and what makes sense as to which path can be taken. For each single project, the optimum balance is sought anew. After all, each work is and remains unique.
Head of Production
[ Written for the Preview 1/2017 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
For a publishing house of our size, we are very internationally-orientated with export sales of around 40 percent. And almost 15 percent of our turnover is generated in the Asiatic region. For that reason, my colleague, Laszlo Simon-Nanko, and I travelled to Asia for the SBL International Meeting, and to meet with our customers in Seoul, Tokyo and Peking.
Our first stop was South Korea where German public law is seen as a role model and is widely read, and where Korean theology professors discuss in perfect German the most important new publications from our exegetical series. On the South Korean academic book market, the tendering policy of the libraries has led to price wars and consolidation in the trade. But at the end of the day, rather than offering a few more discount points, it is the personal contact to academics, attending exhibitions and having the right sales strategy that lead to success.
In Japan, we enjoy long-standing and trusting business partnerships, are firmly grounded in the academic environment there and are well-equipped for it. It is gratifying that the external and internal quality of our books are highly valued in Japan, that publications on German law and Max Weber are big sellers, and that in a small Christian book shop in Tokyo there are more of our titles on the shelves than in the relevant specialist book shops in German university towns.
The academic merit of our books presents us with the opportunity to become noted and respected in China. The market there is dominated by large English-language natural science publishers, and Mohr Siebeck has yet to become established, identify and claim niches for itself as well as to develop and cement business contacts here. I was impressed by the Chinese importers and how despite currency exchange control, censorship and limited internet access they manage to find what they are looking for and make our digital content available to scholars.
And what was the lasting impression after almost three weeks in Asia? The insight that this market is only accessible through contact to local brokers, be they agents or traders, who can overcome language, cultural and market-specific barriers. Other than in the German market, we are barely able to directly reach readers of our publications, but rather are dependent on the advertising and selling skills of the local agents and traders.
The conviction also remains that this and future visits, maintaining and sustaining contacts, and providing publications fitting to the market will further enhance our position in Asia. Plus there is the wonderful realisation that our law, theology and Jewish studies, philosophy, sociology and history publications are greatly appreciated – and this because outstanding authors entrust us with their publications, which are then internationally received, but also because German law, philosophy and theology are highly regard in Asia. This is a source of encouragement to us not only in light of our publishing house's future, but also because it means that scholarship from Germany and in the German language is and remains a benchmark in these fields.
Head of Marketing & Sales
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 3/2016 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
Among academics – and not least of all legal scholars – the 70th birthday is also known as the "Festschrift age". The end of 2015 saw the JuristenZeitung (JZ) reach this point in its history, something which calls for a retrospective, but also some self-commendation. In the first issue of this year (JZ 2016, 1-18), the JZ's former long-term co-editor Rolf Stürner extensively reviewed the developments the journal went through and which issues of post-war (legal) history were dealt with in its pages during the past seven decades.
From Mohr Siebeck's point of view, the JZ is special because it is the only journal with a full-time editorial team in Tübingen's Wilhelmstraße, a fact that can certainly be put down to its frequency of publication (twice monthly). Incidentally, before writing their first contributions for the JZ, many authors have already collaborated with our law editorial team, whose offices are right next door on the same floor in the building.
The JZ's main characteristic is that among the numerous other legal journals – excluding the educational ones – it is one of the few which does not specialise in a particular legal field or at least focus on one of law's three traditional pillars (civil, public and criminal law). Ever-increasing legal differentiation and specialisation among legal professionals – including legal scholars – has and will continue to be a subject of much debate. For the publisher and editorial team, this means asking the question: Is there still a need and therefore demand for a "general" legal journal with academic aspirations? And if so, which criteria – apart from exceptional quality – determine the selection of contributions if any "legal issue" is admissible right from the start?
The second question certainly brings to mind first of all issues that raise potentially interesting aspects for all lawyers and legal scholars. For example, on interdisciplinary contributions and the "bird's eye view" of law and legal order(s): Europeanisation or constitutionalisation, judicial development of law, private law enforcement etc., or on so-called basic subjects such as the theory or philosophy of law. But it should – and ought! - not always have to "be about the whole". A contribution may on the face of it deal with a very particular legal question, and, by way of an independent dogmatic approach or the revelation of surprising parallels with figures of thought temporarily forgotten during changing societal "environmental conditions", can nevertheless be just as inspirational as any reflection about the "right right".
Over the decades there has been and still is a great deal of consensus between the editors and editorial staff on the criteria for and selection of individual contributions. But what is even more remarkable is that for authors too the question of the “right” place to publish each individual essay keeps on arising. And here it is apparent that there is broad agreement about the "role" of the JZ, something which is independent of the level of experience in teaching, research and publication matters as well as the internal discipline represented. Conversations confirm this time and again, as does the – still gratifying – number of manuscripts sent in. Perhaps this gives a clue to the answer of the first question asked above. We are in any case convinced that a general legal journal that can combine academic ambition and topicality is both important and necessary.
Managing Editor of the JZ
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 2016/2 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
"Do you read the manuscripts at all anymore then?" or "Do you not have to read an awful lot?". When it comes to the job of the editor, these are two very contrary, typical questions. The publishing editor is indeed a quiet quick and avid reader. In academic publishing, things go above and beyond that though, reaching into the realms of program planning, evaluations and consultation. Our authors are specialists in their respective fields and trust us with the publication of their research findings. For these, we seek out the right place in our publishing program, arrange the reviewing, make revision recommendations and take care of the formalities.
Many of our customers are also professional readers who put their trust in us as an academic publisher to procure relevant research literature: then what we publish has undergone a selection and review process, has often been assessed from several angles and held to be important, and has subsequently been frequently revised. So it is that we provide guidance in the increasingly complex world of academic publishing and are also often able to broker new contacts within the scholarly community.
Young authors especially are advised intensively and helped on the way through the jungle of series, evaluations, promotion regulations, deadlines, grants and subsidies. Why is it worth publishing in a renowned series and waiting for the result of that extra assessment? What makes a book title good? Why are indices important? For big as well as small questions, it matters to have a personal contact partner.
Editors are professional optimists. They are convinced of the importance of a book project, refuse to let go and, along with marketing, campaign on its behalf even after publication. It is always exciting for program planners to follow which expectations are fulfilled (or which are not). And it is fascinating when sales from the back-list mirror current political affairs and, for example, following events last autumn, titles such as Karl R. Popper's "The Open Society and its Enemies" or "Violence and Social Orders" by Douglas North, John J. Wallis and Barry R. Weingast are increasingly bought (and read?).
This spring, two new publications in the history and philosophy program tell in completely different ways of the editorial and program work in various historical constellations: Angelika Königseder reports impressively in her book on the history of the Walter de Gruyter press during National Socialism of the constraints and lures of academic publishing under the Nazis. Reinhard Mehring analyses in "Heidegger's Big Politics. The Semantic Revolution of the Collected Works" the conception of Heidegger's Collected Works and describes the dealings between author and publisher.
Even if academic publishers – the catchwords are copyright or VG Wort (the German collecting society) - currently find themselves in turbulent cultural-political waters, cultural pessimism has no place in editorial work. It is much too important that we continue with our authors to produce good and relevant books and journals to serve scholarly research.
Dr. Stephanie Warnke-De Nobili
Chief Editor History, Philosophy & Social Sciences
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 2016/1 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
As you may have noticed in the last Mohr Kurier, the traditional column has undergone something of a facelift and in the future we will use it to offer you insights into various aspects of life at Mohr Siebeck and our work here.
Marketing is our messenger in the world and the first of its three main tasks is to keep you informed of new publications. Because our program is becoming increasingly international, we offer all information in German and English and are thus able to reach readers and customers around the globe with our advertising. And as more and more books and journals have been made available electronically, so too has our advertising material been digitalized. With the Mohr Kurier's counterpart the eKurier, we are able to send out up-to-date, interest-specific e-mails about our latest releases. The website, which as you may have noticed was recently redesigned and is now online with a wider range of functions, has replaced the complete print catalog. Print and electronic advertising will continue to complement one another in the future meaning you still have the chance to leaf through the Mohr Kurier and jot down notes in its margins. There is much to be said for electronic versions however, their being more immediate, available anywhere, searchable and individually processable.
Secondly, the on-going process of digitalization and the accompanying flood of information mean that it is becoming more and more important to raise the online profile of our publications. Our strategy therefore places new emphasis on ensuring that search engines such as Google find our books and journals easily and that these are promptly indexed in the burgeoning number of specialist research data bases. Over and above this, we will continue to attend symposiums to guarantee that our publications remain highly visible in the real world and not just the virtual one.
Our third aim is to augment and reflect Mohr Siebeck's corporate identity in our advertising material. Mohr Siebeck is synonymous with high-class academic books and journals containing high-class content, the specific form of which has been subject to steady and fitting change for the past 200 years. The time has now come to fuse these developments together with our website and the Mohr Kurier. The four mainstays of theology, philosophy, law, and economics that defined our 20th century publications have evolved into nine independent areas, now represented by three inter-related thematic pillars. Law, rendering the most titles, theology as one of our oldest disciplines and newcomer history are set apart by the fact that each is represented by specialist editors.
Marketing is adjusting to fit today's information consumption habits and the new forms of advertising retain the high quality appearance and content our readers and customers expect. The aims I mention are a means to the end of selling our books and journals and disseminating our authors' works. Marketing is accordingly distribution-oriented. Just how this works will be the subject of a future column.
Mohr Siebeck and Marketing
Every now and again, we will be reporting here on various aspects of life at Mohr Siebeck.
In marketing, we aim to produce precise, high-quality print and, increasingly, electronic information on new publications in order to enhance their online visibility. At the same time, this material should clearly reflect Mohr Siebeck's established identity. You have perhaps already discovered the influence of these three elements on our recently newly-designed homepage with its improved functionality.
The aims I mention are a means to the end of selling our books and journals and spreading our authors' works. Marketing is accordingly distribution-orientated. Just how this works will be the subject of a future column.
Head of Marketing & Sales
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 2015/3 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
It may be something we are not so aware of in our daily routines, but every institution is subject to constant change and a publishing house is no exception to this. Seemingly unchanging work constitutes the thicket of the lived moment, with only the light of retrospect revealing great transformation to the way things were. This is certainly something that can be said of Mohr Siebeck; a special feature of the publishing house being that its distinguishing characteristics have enjoyed an astounding constancy over a long period of time. The task of producing superbly presented quality content for the academic disciplines in our programme has always been, and remains, our focal point.
It was a watershed for Mohr Siebeck when for the first time in its history, no member of the owning family, but rather two managing directors, took the helm to oversee the company's fortunes. Though this may be viewed from the outside as a breach in the order of things, continuity nevertheless carries on at a management level: we have been co-directors since 2005 and up until very recently led through thick and thin along with Dr. Georg Siebeck. We know the publishing house and its ideals inside out. And because we have always identified with these, it is our intention to continue editorially and managerially in much the same way. To be sure, some changes will be necessary because neither of us were born into publishing. However, as concerns content, overall presentation, as well as guiding ideas and concepts, our dependability for authors and customers is assured and, it is hoped, stay foremost.
And so to continue in our changing continuity, we have set ourselves four goals. First of all, we want to widen our programme, making it more international by publishing, where appropriate, more English titles. In line with this, we would like to expand our sales networks abroad in order to reinforce our presence in non-German markets, an area which currently provides about half our turnover. Thirdly, we aim to press ahead with the digitalization of the publishing programme. The first steps in this direction have already been taken by augmenting our personnel. A few younger, and partly new, members of staff have recently taken up key positions with the intention being that this new generation ferry the changes into the future.
It may well be that outward appearances give the impression of a new accent being set; however, it is the already existing or applied potential and resources that will above all be further developed. Shifting economic and legal conditions are not going to make it any easier to profitably publish specialized literature for the humanities in print and digital formats – yet that is exactly our enduring objective.
Dr. Franz-Peter Gillig Dr. Henning Ziebritzki
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 2015/2 and translated by Elizabeth Wener. ]
Dear Mohr Kurier readers,
I am addressing you directly and without a heading this time because what I am going to write about has nothing do with any general matter concerning publishing or this publishing house, but is rather something of a personal nature.
Last year, I reached the age of 68. For an academic scholar, that is an age at which he can once more delve into a rich treasure trove of experiences and present these anew. For a publisher who has to operate a business that has become increasingly complicated over the years, it is however an age at which the value of his many experiences diminishes – at least during the day-to-day work with the many individual decisions which have to be made therein.
Rationally, this is something which has long been clear to me and therefore I have shared the directorship of the publishing house for several years with two exceptionally intelligent and loyal companions, counting it as one of the greatest strokes of luck in my life to have met them. So it was that, likewise with rationality, I limited in the first instance my directorship until my 65th year. I extended this by another three years because I love my occupation and value, above all, the many intelligent people I have come together with as a result.
Over the past two years however, I noticed very clearly - both through ration, but above all through feeling — how difficult it was becoming for me to face up to the requirements of the day as the responsible carrying out of my profession demands. I had to admit to myself in all honesty that I had become too slow for these fast times, even for a publishing house which sets store on long term perspectives.
So it was that I decided to lay down my directorship of the publishing house at the end of the year 2014.
Naturally enough, this decision filled me with wistfulness: what am I giving up in daily contacts, daily requirements and - yes, this too – daily friendships? I can not only think of myself though, but must also think of the company and its employees and my family as well. It is important for the publishing house not to have a figurehead from the past at its helm, but rather that it be led by figures belonging to the present and the future. For the family, it is important that I have more time for my wife, my children and grandchildren than the furtherance of my occupation would have allowed, particularly when I would have needed increasingly more time for all which was required.
My daughters and I decided a number of years ago that the company should not be sold but should stay in the family. That will remain so. I am, and for the foreseeable future shall also remain, the company’s “anchor owner”. I shall also retain my interest in what is published and above all, how it is published. I will also dip back into the world of publishing from time to time, particularly should I be asked. However, I will try to intervene as little as possible in the decisions made by Franz-Peter Gillig and Henning Ziebritzki, who succeed me as directors. They have my complete trust and over the years have likewise won the trust of the authors of this house.
I know that the company is in good hands.
At the turn of the year, I cleared out my office in our building at Wilhelmstraße 18, where for over 40 years personal belongings and business items had found their places next to one another. I have also decided not to visit the publishing house regularly. In his last years, my father came and went here in order to read his newspaper. I have heard of other older publisher colleagues doing similar. I do not want that. The ghost of Hamlet’s father belongs in a Shakespearean play and not in a house which should ever be open to the new.
Let me nevertheless end on a theatrical note: "You have been a magnificent audience!".
Yours sincerely, Georg Siebeck
[ Written for the Mohr Kurier 2015/1 and translated by Elizabeth Wener in January 2015. ]