Remembering Our Friend and Fellow Publisher, Robert Friedman (1942 - 2019)
A Fond Farewell to an
Old Friend of a New Age
Garden City Park, NY: It is with sadness that Square One Publishers announces the passing of our friend and fellow publisher, Robert S. Friedman. As reported earlier today both in Shelf Awareness Pro and PW Daily, Mr. Friedman died, surrounded by the love of family and close friends, on the day of January 7, 2019 at his home in Faber, Virginia following a long struggle with spontaneous Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD Prion’s Disease), a rare and presently incurable neurodegenerative brain disorder. He was 76 years old, and is survived by his beloved, Beth Hines; his sister, Diane Bienstock; and three sons—Jonathan, Matthew, and Marc—along with daughter, Sophie. A memorial is planned by the family to be held at some point in February or March of this year.
A lifelong Virginian, Friedman attended the University of Virginia where he earned a BA in English, went on to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where he earned an MFA in Writing, and then studied abroad at the University College of Swansea of the University of Wales, where he completed two years of graduate studies. In 1989, fifteen years after founding Norfolk, Virginia-based The Donning Company in 1974 and serving as president and publisher, Friedman then co-founded Hampton Roads Publishing Company with Frank DeMarco. During the next two decades, Mr. Friedman published over one thousand titles largely focused on the cutting-edge niche of Metaphysical and Self-Help books. Several of the books that he signed over those years turned into national bestsellers, and he then developed key relationships with internationally-recognized bestselling authors such as Richard Bach of Jonathan Livingston Seagull fame and Neale Donald Walsch, whose classic Conversations with God series has now sold well over ten million copies to date and is available in 37 languages worldwide.
A writer himself over the years, Friedman also served as co-author alongside Canadian bestselling author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle of the children’s book Milton’s Secret (2008), which—together with Tolle’s international bestseller, The Power of Now (1999)—formed the basis of the popular and eponymously named 2016 Canadian feature film adaptation starring legendary Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning actor, Donald Sutherland.
After stepping away from his role as publisher of Hampton Roads in 2009, Friedman soon after began another New Age-geared book publishing company the following year called Rainbow Ridge Books. His strength of vision as a publisher in the areas of Self-Help, New Thought, psychic realms, and visionary fiction continued with Rainbow Ridge Books, where he brought out strong-selling titles in these areas of interest such as: Inner Vegas: Creating Miracles, Abundance, and Health by Dr. Joseph Gallenberger; The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences and A Manual for Developing Humans by noted spiritualist P.M.H. Atwater; and Coming Full Circle: Ancient Teachings for a Modern World by New York Times bestselling author Lynn Andrews.
Perhaps most telling was the loyalty with which both Richard Bach and Neale Donald Walsch returned to work with Mr. Friedman again as their publisher at Rainbow Ridge—first in 2012 when Bach brought a fully-revised version of his Messiah’s Handbook to him for publication; and then in 2014, when Mr. Walsch brought to Friedman what would be his next bestselling book titled God’s Message to the World: You’ve Got Me All Wrong. The good energy between publisher and author continued, with Walsch’s fourth and final title in the Conversations with God series (Awaken the Species) being published throughout North America by Rainbow Ridge in 2017.
When asked for a comment on Mr. Friedman upon news of his passing, Mr. Walsch saw fit to provide the following statement: “My heart opens to this very day, when I think of Bob Friedman’s courage in publishing Conversations with God nearly twenty-five years ago, when it was such cutting-edge material that five other publishers wouldn’t go near it. [Bob’s] insatiable intellectual curiosity and sheer business bravery marked him forever as a pioneer in his industry, throwing open the door to a whole new level of spiritual exploration books.”
Rainbow Ridge Books will now be run by Mr. Friedman’s eldest son, Jonathan, himself an award-winning filmmaker and graphic designer based in Virginia. “I plan to honor my father’s legacy,” says Jonathan, “and to maintain as best I can the potential and promise of his plans and vision for Rainbow Ridge as he had intended.” His first move at the helm of Rainbow Ridge has been to bring out a trade paperback edition of the recent hardcover Conversations with God, Book 4, which has already begun to sell in large numbers. Square One Publishers’ president and fellow publishing veteran, Rudy Shur, also plans to keep his company in place as the distributor and sales point for all Rainbow Ridge titles. Of Friedman, Shur notes, “I always respected Bob’s accomplishments, and also appreciated him as a friend. It was nice how, over the years, he and I both learned from each others’ own experiences in publishing. He was even-tempered, enjoyed a good laugh, and was always willing to listen. I will miss him.”
In the end, the best testament to Mr. Friedman’s life might come from acclaimed author D. S. Lliteras, whose forthcoming novel with Rainbow Ridge entitled Descent features the following heartfelt dedication:
To Robert Friedman—publisher, ally, friend.