Julian Deahl - Faces of Brill
Position: Sr. Acquisition Editor
Short job description:
As a Senior Acquisitions Editor, Julian is responsible for developing a publishing program made up of books, book series, journals, reference works, and primary sources. In addition, his job involves the mentoring of interns, who work on a project with Brill from anywhere between three months to two years. He also plays an important role in the launch of major new titles, which requires coordination between marketing and operations. Julian also works closely with an assistant who is usually managing the book program (including contracting, peer review, prepublication preparation, and more).
What is your favorite part of the job?
Attending academic conferences and meeting scholars is what Julian enjoys most. This is the place where new ideas are explored. He finds the creative side of the job very important. “I act as a catalyst for producing scholarly works. It is important to know the hot topics in the field, and to have a feeling for what emerging fields are on the horizon.” At the same time, Julian needs to determine there is a market for these new ideas, and a network of scholars to develop them.
Over the years, Julian has managed several different publishing disciplines within Brill. He started with Classical Studies, and has worked also in Religious Studies and Medieval Studies. This has allowed him to view several topics from different perspectives, forming fresh angles on topics of scholarly research.
Julian, you are working at Brill for approximately 35 years. What changed during that time?
“The most obvious change is of course the technology. I think there are still new business models coming,” Julian says. “We are still not at the end. I think eBooks will continue to develop, in terms of format and in terms of reader demand. But changes in scholarly publishing take time. We need to cultivate new approaches and see if they work.”
Business models have also changed considerably, and continue to evolve – open access being a prime example. “Library technology is also developing, and publishers need to deliver more complex electronic platforms that meet end-users expectations.” Publishing now requires web developers in addition to typesetters; liaisons to library discovery services in addition to distribution of physical books and journals.
There are also new developments in the way content is presented to and discovered by the user. For example, the new online database Arkyves tags open access images from various museum and library collections so that researchers can answer questions like: “how did people in medieval times depict crocodiles?”
Julian summarizes, “You always have to ask: Are we publishing the right resources?”
What makes Brill special?
“Because Brill is a publicly traded company, it has to be self-sufficient, and not depend on outside sources of funding, like university presses, for example. The benefit is that we can reinvest profit into new projects like the digitization of rare manuscripts or other projects that require considerable start-up costs.”
Julian also sees Brill as having a greater sense of international recognition among academics, which now reaches well beyond Europe and the United States. “When I began, reaching an international audience consisted of a stack of index cards with addresses, and we would send out catalogs to that list. It’s much more complicated now.” Julian remembers.
“There have been many crises and changes in the industry during my career. If you are a good and creative company, you can adapt with new models.”
What was the last publication you worked on?
“The most recent project is J. F. Niermeyer's Mediae Latinitatis Lexicon Minus Online. We started working on this 10 years ago, and now, in 2014, it has finally published.”
A book series Julian recently worked on deals with social, political and cultural aspects of different cities in early modern history. Two of those companion books are already published: A Companion to Venetian History, 1400-1797 in September 2014, and A Companion to Medieval Palermo in August 2013. A Companion to Late Medieval and Early Modern Milan will be published in December 2014. Two more books are commissioned and deal with cities outside of Europe, Lima and Mexico City.