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Citizen Square

Citizen Square

Posted: 2018/09/12

Garden City Park, NY: Square One Publishers finds itself at an interesting moment in its eighteen-year history. Following the acquisition this past January of Rodale Inc. by Hearst Communications—who then sold off all Rodale Books’ health titles to Penguin Random House (PRH)—Square One now stands as the biggest independently-owned publisher in the United States to maintain shared focus on both traditional and complementary health books. With more than 350 active titles in print to date, Square One’s president, Rudy Shur, and his devoted team of full- and part-time employees are poised to take the company’s success to the next level in the primary subject areas of health and fitness.

“I found it ironic,” says Shur about when he learned that the Rodale health books were being picked up by Penguin Random House. Ironic, perhaps, because he saw the 1,000+ health titles that he signed over twenty-three years as publisher of his first company, Avery, be sold off to Penguin back in the summer of 1999. “That was before Penguin had joined up with Random House, when it was still its own entity. Now that PRH exists and the Rodale family sold all its assets to Hearst, it looks like we’re the last self-owned traditional and alternative health publisher left standing. Not that we mind, of course.”

While he has always continued to seek out and sign a myriad of health-focused titles—“all of which provide interesting stories and perspectives that deserve to be seen, heard about, and read in a democratic society,” he notes—Shur has also picked key moments in Square One’s development when he would look to pick up and incorporate titles from other similarly-sized health publishers into the Square One line. To date, Square One has picked up titles from companies like: Vital Health Publishing and Professional Books Inc. (PBI) in 2007; the book program of InnoVision Health Media in 2009; Safe Goods Publishing in 2010; and, though this most recent acquisition is focused more on topics of science and environmental conservation, Shur also acquired Ocean Publishing in 2016.

Within the trade, Square One’s consistent growth as an independent small book publisher was recognized and lauded in Publishers Weekly for six years in a row as one of the fastest-growing publishing houses in the United States. In 2012, Shur felt the time was right for Square One to remove itself from the annual list of well-performing small publishers so that other houses were also given the chance to shine in the light of their peers. “It was gratifying for us to stand up and be counted like that within the industry,” Shur says, “but we felt the point of our success and relevance had been made, and it was time for us to really dig in and sharpen our focus even more closely upon the world of health and fitness book publishing.”

Six years later, Shur and his fellow Squares have worked hard to bring a variety of top-quality and often crucial health titles to the forefront of mainstream medicine—and culture. Over these past years, there have been significant new titles on topics such as Alzheimer’s disease (The Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Diet, featured more than a dozen times in the past two years on TV’s nationally popular Dr. Oz Show); processed foods (Unsafe at Any Meal: What the FDA Does Not Want You to Know About the Foods You Eat by researcher and former Food and Drug Administration FDA investigator Dr. Renee Dufault, which has provided clear evidence of heavy metal toxicity in everything from baby formula to breakfast cereals); natural healers (Sodium Bicarbonate, Apple Cider Vinegar, Coconuts for Your Health, Turmeric for Your Health); and the increased legalization throughout the US of medical marijuana and hemp CBD oil products (Healing with Medical Marijuana and Dr. Earl Mindell’s Healing with Hemp CBD Oil, which sold through four print runs for Square One this past summer alone).

Next up for Square One will be publication this January 2019—in time for Thyroid Awareness Month—of the title What You Must Know About Hashimoto’s Disease by rising-star physician Dr. Brittany Henderson with co-author Allison Futterman. There will also be new titles from established authors Dr. Earl Mindell (What’s In Your Blood & Why You Should Care, co-written by Gene Bruno), Dr. Jeffrey Anshel (What You Must Know About Dry Eye), and Big Yoga author Meera Patricia Kerr (Take a Deep Breath, co-written by Sarah McLanahan).

“My father spent his life working in a bakery,” Shur says, “while I’ve spent most of mine working in a bookery. I like the idea that my company and I have worked hard to serve people, just as my father did—but it pleases me just a little more to know that what we have to offer at Square One can help people be happy and healthy.”

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