Erol A.F. Baykal
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This book started its life as a Ph.D. dissertation in the fall of 2008. Now, as I am writing this preface, it has been exactly a decade since I first embarked on a journey into the history of the Ottoman press. Although I obtained my doctoral degree in 2013, it took me an additional five years to grow the thesis into a book. This was partly because I felt the need to include new material. However, I must also admit that the main cause of the delay simply was that I had abandoned the idea of publishing a book altogether.

During those aforementioned five years following my doctoral studies, my life changed dramatically. I married the love of my life, Fatmagül, and together we have built a family. We are blessed with a daughter, Melodi, and a son, Ediz. I also returned to my other great passion in life, i.e. computers. I published my Arabic conjugation software as a mobile application. I launched (and failed) a tech start-up. I started my own (albeit tiny) IT consultancy company and worked as a software developer. In short, I certainly was not putting much effort into building an academic career. So, why waste any of the precious little time I had on an academic book? Consequently, the book was pushed farther and farther down my list of priorities.

But here it is. The book is published. I certainly would love to claim that this is because I am the type of person who finishes the things he starts. That, somehow, it was all my own doing. But that would hardly be fair to those near my heart who have silently urged me not to forget about the book, who have gently kept reminding me of this unfinished business. I believe that without those people, this book would not have existed. I also believe that the birth of our children gave me the final nudge that I needed.

In our neck of the woods, there is little glory to be gained from a subject that is considered as obscure as Ottoman history. Truth be told, I expect to gain no reward from this publication at all. What is more, the countless hours that I have poured into completing this book were all on my own dime. I am convinced that, had I used that time to grow my business instead, I would be living in a bigger house and driving a nicer car. Instead, I finished this book.

This sacrifice (if I may call it so?) was made for Melodi and Ediz. This sacrifice was made because I would like my children to understand that there are many things in life that are far more important than the pursuit of material wealth. One of those things is humankind’s endeavour to further our understanding of the universe that we inhabit and of the things that exist within it. This book attempts to contribute to that endeavor. And however insignificant that contribution may be, I would like my children to understand that it is still worth a sacrifice. I hope that, should it ever be necessary, the existence of this book will serve as a gentle reminder to them not to lose sight of the duties that we carry as human beings, much like how they reminded me of mine.

Antwerp, September 2018

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