Tomas Beth-Avdalla is a quiet Swedish-Assyrian whose work connects generations of Assyrians. He is a freelance graphic designer, specializing in book design. His background is in journalism, but he also studied Semitic languages—both in college and at Mor Gabriel Monastery, an Assyrian monastery located in Tur Abdin in modern-day Turkey. Beth-Avdalla founded the Nineveh Press in 2016, with the aim of making old and rare Assyrian publications accessible to the general public.
Q: What motivated you to start the Nineveh Press?
A: I started the Nineveh Press because I saw that there are many unpublished works, such as the works of David B. Perley and Abraham K. Yoosuf, and I wanted to contribute with my expertise and time to work towards finally getting them published and distributed. At the same time, I want to give new and aspiring authors the possibility to publish and distribute their works.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your work?
A: There are several challenging aspects with my work at the Nineveh Press. One is marketing—spreading information about the Nineveh Press with the aim of getting organizations and people to purchase the books. I have been trying to reach out in different ways, such as social media, email, and participation in local events in Sweden. But we live in a time where there is a constant flow of information, which makes it hard to get noticed and in turn hard to make a profit to keep the project going. Other than that, the process of preparing books for publication is very time consuming. I work alone. I spend most of my free time doing this work.
Q: How are you funded?
A: I do not receive funding on a regular basis from anyone. Two of my books were sponsored by the Assyria Foundation of America and the Santakki Foundation. I have recently created avenues for people who wish to support my work through monthly-pledges or one-time contributions. You can find the details online at www.ninevehpress.com.
All books published by the Nineveh Press are printed on demand, which means that as a publisher I don’t have any upfront costs for the printing, nor do I have to take care of the distribution. I would not be able to do this work otherwise. With that said, it’s the time and work that goes into each book that need financial support. With proper funding, I would be able to spend more of my time on editing and design work, which would mean that I could publish more books at a higher regularity, as opposed to every now and then.
Q: What impact do you hope the Nineveh Press will have?
I really do hope that the Nineveh Press will inspire Assyrians to read and learn more about their people’s modern history, identity, language, and culture—and perhaps become writers themselves and tell their stories. Assyrians must themselves write about their own experiences.
We have much work to do in order to preserve our literature and culture, but it is crucial that we continue to use our language and preserve and develop our culture.
Of course, I hope that our work will also reach non-Assyrians and deepen their understanding of Assyrians and our history. Perhaps it will inspire them to take interest in our cause.
Nineveh Press publishes new books and reprints old and rare books and periodicals concerning Assyrian language, literature, history, and culture. Texts are available in various languages, including English and Assyrian. Nineveh Press also offers new and aspiring authors the opportunity to publish and distribute their works.
To purchase Nineveh Press’s books, please visit www.ninevehpress.com. The books are distributed worldwide.