Notes From

Articles by Square One President, Rudy Shur

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NOTES FROM A DYSLEXIC PUBLISHER # 9

Posted: 2021/10/17

The Point
As a publisher, sometimes you come across projects that can
unexpectedly reshape the direction of your company and your life.
Take the subject of food and your health—Part One.


When I started out in the publishing business, I was lucky enough to land a job with a college textbook company, first as a salesperson and then as an associate editor. So when I started my first publishing company along with two partners, it was natural that we focused on what I knew: books and lab manuals designed for college courses. The problem was that our sales were seasonal, based solely on when semesters began. Having to wait months to get paid was hard on our cash flow, and after a time, I knew that we needed to do something different.

One of our printers told me about a book he had been printing for a customer. He said the interior of the book looked pretty bad, but based on the number of reprints, it must have been selling. He handed me a copy and told me to check it out. He wasn’t wrong about the way the book looked, but in spite of its unappealing appearance, it was selling. The question was why? It was essentially a cookbook that focused on raw fruits and vegetables and something called wheatgrass. Having been raised on meat and potatoes, I didn’t understand the attraction of a vegetarian-style cookbook, but it obviously had an audience. It made me think that this type of market might be worth checking out.

The author was a woman named Ann Wigmore, and she had founded a teaching center located in Boston called the Hippocrates Health Institute. I called the Institute to set up a meeting with Ms. Wigmore and was connected to Stephen Blauer, the Institute’s director. When I expressed my interest in Ms. Wigmore’s book, Stephen was kind enough to invite me to see the center and meet with Ms. Wigmore. A week later, I stood in front of a beautiful four-story turn-of-the century building in the heart of downtown Boston. When I walked inside, I was immediately stuck by the strong odor of grass, much like a freshly mowed lawn. I was met at the reception area by Stephen, who took me on a tour.

I learned that the Institute had become one of the most popular health centers in the country thanks to a number of articles that had appeared in some elite fashion magazines. And as we walked through the building, the crowded classrooms clearly showed just how popular the Institute had become. When I asked if this popularity was due to a growing interest in raw veggies, he said, “Not quite. People are sick and they want to be healthy.” He pointed out that the Standard American Diet was likely to kill more of us than any single illness—in fact, most illnesses could be linked to our poor eating habits. Although I heard what he was saying, I had no intention of changing the way I ate.

After our tour of the center, Stephen took me to meet Ann, who had a beautiful apartment on the top floor. She was plainly dressed, relatively thin, and spoke with a slight European accent. She offered me a drink—a glass of wheatgrass juice. It had a distinctive odor, similar to the one I first encountered downstairs but stronger. It tasted the way I imagined grass would taste, only it was sweeter and had a little kick.

We then sat down and had a very informative conversation. She told me how she had discovered the benefits of wheatgrass juice, why she believed raw fruits and vegetables made you healthier, and how the Institute came to be. I told her about my company and said that I was interested in publishing her recipe book. She said she appreciated my interest and that she would talk to Stephen about my offer. By the time we were done, I had finished my drink, and I have to admit that I was feeling pretty good.

Stephen met me downstairs. I told him that I enjoyed meeting Ann and felt that our conversation had gone well. I also told him I had tried the wheatgrass juice. At first, I didn’t think it tasted all that good—but by the time I had finished, it wasn’t all that bad. He had a big smile on his face. “Was it a little sweet?” he asked. When I nodded, he told me that Ann sometimes added a little honey and then aged it. Some of the sugar in the honey then turned into alcohol. I said to Stephen, “Well, I’ve only been here a few hours, and I’m feeling a lot healthier.” We both laughed. A few days later, Stephen called to inform me that Ann had given me the go-ahead to publish her book.

During the book’s editing process, Stephen and I spoke frequently about the book. But he also wanted me to understand the power of food, and he was very convincing—so much so that I decided to go on a raw vegetarian diet. I really didn’t think it was going to make a difference, but I promised Stephen I would give it a try. My daily meals consisted of fruits, salads, or both. On the third day of that diet, I woke up and knew something was different. For the first time since I was a kid, my nose wasn’t stuffed and I was able to breathe easily. Now, that may not sound like a big deal, but if you’ve suffered from sinusitis most of your life, waking up without feeling pressure in your head and being able to breathe normally is a blessing. I called Stephen that day and told him I felt the diet was working—and I thanked him for being so persistent. About three months later, I had lost about forty unwanted pounds and was feeling very good.

As fate would have it, the moment I woke up and was able to breathe freely was a turning point in both my life and the direction of my company. Over the years that followed, we published five additional Ann Wigmore titles, all of which became bestsellers. With the publication of her books, we were able to expand our sales into health food shops and trade bookstores, finally freeing us from the rigid college textbook market. My belief in the healing power of food has also guided my second publishing company, Square One. We have stayed on track, always looking to publish the best, most informative health-based vegetarian cookbooks and diet titles. And as you can you see from our titles below, our commitment to healthy eating is as strong as it ever was. However, as my next post will explain, this was my first step towards expanding both my company and my own view of what good health entails.

To see some of my previous posts, I invite you to visit our website at www.squareonepublishers.com, and click the “NOTES FROM” tab.

Regards,

Rudy Shur, Publisher
Square One Publishers, Inc.

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NOTES FROM A DYSLEXIC PUBLISHER # 8

Posted: 2021/09/14

The Point
As a publisher, sometimes you unexpectedly come across
a miscarriage of justice that needs to be brought into the light.
Consider the subject of guardianships—and no, it’s not about Britney.

I had entered the courthouse to be with my cousin Morris. He was fighting to become the legal guardian of his wife, Sophie, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. Morris had been my father’s partner in a bakery business for many years—he and Sophie had always been part of my life growing up—and when he asked me for support, I had to go. Since he was Sophie’s husband, I thought it would be a simple procedure, but it was not. Due to an ongoing family dispute, Morris was denied the right to be his wife’s legal guardian. The judge had also refused to make any other immediate family member guardian. Instead, he asked if there was another relative available and willing to become Sophie’s guardian.

At that moment, Morris turned to me. I agreed to become Sophie’s guardian, and to have Sophie as my ward. While I consented to take on this responsibility, I truly had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had no problem overseeing the welfare of my cousin. However, what I would eventually learn was how a legal system—designed to take care of people who could not take care of themselves—had become a gold mine for unscrupulous individuals who knew how to “play” the system.

I must admit that I was naïve. In order to become a guardian, all I had to do was watch a video and take a test. It was only after I was approved that I was told that I was going to be “co-guardian” alongside a lawyer who specialized in this area. I served as Sophie’s co-guardian for several years, supposedly working with the first court-appointed lawyer. However, while I did all the work, the co-guardian did little except submit a continual flurry of bills for her time. When the question was raised about her participation in front of the court, she was smart enough to resign without raising any red flags. At about this time, Morris passed away, and the court selected another co-guardian. This lawyer seemed to know just what to do, taking over what I had been doing for years. While the family continued to squabble, the one good thing was that Sophie was being well cared for by one of her two daughters.

When the guardianship started, Sophie still had a sizeable estate in her name. As time passed, I watched the money in Sophie’s bank account being used to pay off more legal fees, not only for the co-guardian’s services but also for those of the lawyer’s associates. Yet this was only the tip of the iceberg. There were other non-lawyers called in by this new co-guardian who charged Sophie for their “services,” as well. At one point, one of the lawyers involved told me that I should be billing Sophie’s estate for the time I was spending as a co-guardian, but I had never wanted a penny. By the time Sophie died, all of the money in her estate was gone. And all I could do was watch as these “guardianship” players nimbly extracted the money that Sophie and Morris had worked a lifetime to accumulate—all done legally, and under the court’s “supervision.” I quickly learned that sending off all manner of emails to elected officials and organizations such as AARP and the JDL was a complete waste of time. I needed to do something—anything.

I needed first to learn as much as I could about how our system of state-based guardianships worked, and what I discovered horrified me. In each state, the system allows guardians to essentially take over the lives of their wards. They control every aspect of the ward’s finances, living arrangements, and medical care as well as visiting arrangements with other family members and friends. And should a ward own any property but no longer possess the funds to pay the guardian, the guardian is allowed legally to sell off the ward’s assets in order to get paid. The guardian can even cast ballots on behalf of the ward to vote in elections—something about which judges running for re-election are obviously aware. As many stories reported in the news have shown, some truly greedy guardians do get caught. However, the ones who know how to play the system most often do not. As a book publisher, I needed to do the only thing that I knew I could do. I needed to find someone sufficiently knowledgeable to write a book about this legally supervised miscarriage of justice.

As I reviewed possible candidates, several names emerged. One person, though, seemed to be on a special mission to help unite families whose relatives had been trapped in this system. Dr. Sam Sugar is a medical doctor who, through firsthand experience, had seen just what a guardianship could do. Soon thereafter, he co-founded Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship (AAAPG), a nonprofit organization designed to help expose the corruption at the heart of each state’s guardianship system. When I asked if he wanted to write a book about this system, he readily agreed.

One year later, we published Guardianships and the Elderly: The Perfect Crime ($19.95 USD, ISBN: 978-0-7570-0433-9) to rave reviews (see below). To my surprise and continued dismay, the book has not yet brought about much-needed change. What it has done is provide a clear picture of how unwanted guardianships occur; establish a list of the crimes legally carried out by many guardians and their cohorts; and outline the options that families have at their disposal once a guardianship has been put in place.

I am not a lawyer, nor am I a politician or a hell-raiser. What I am is a publisher who still believes in the power of the printed word. It would be one thing if the co-guardians that I worked with had shown any compassion for my cousin. But for them, it was always about the money. Anyone who takes the time to read this book will understand that our parents, our friends, and even we can easily fall victim to this injustice. At least the reviewers who have read this book understand its important message. Here is what a few of them have said about this important book . . .

“A powerful voice in senior advocacy sounds the alarm on the guardianship industry’s gross abuses . . . explores the evolution of the guardianship process and its statutes, triggering scenarios, and mechanisms, offering clear, readable explanations of the legalities, appointed officials, and court probate structures involved . . . [Sugar’s] intent is to prevent others from suffering the financial and emotional struggle of a broken system and to empower readers to arm themselves with enough accessible knowledge and foresight to avoid the dizzyingly complicated guardianship arrangement altogether . . . smartly offers practical tips and alternatives to avoid abusive situations and to honor final intentions in the most respectful ways possible . . . A potent, important call to action for those preparing to assume or actively involved in the estate caretaking of an incapacitated loved one.” Kirkus Reviews

“Enlightens readers about the financial and psychological toll taken on vulnerable elderly people by corrupt court-appointed guardians . . . [author] Sugar, who estimates that as many as 14% of all guardianships involve some criminality, convincingly demonstrates that the system as a whole is broken . . . going beyond merely sounding the alarm, he recommends concrete ways for individuals to protect themselves and their loved ones . . . with the aging of the American population and the concomitant increase in expected guardianships, this is a timely and valuable cri de coeur [passionate appeal].”
                                                                                                                 —Publishers Weekly

“Guardians should be champions and protectors who look out for incapacitated people, but they too often take advantage financially of those in their care, argues Sugar, a medical doctor who founded Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship (AAAPG) . . . Readers who worry about the trustworthiness of court-appointed guardians who are supposed to protect the health, assets, and welfare of a ward will find their fears confirmed . . . this is certainly an informative look at an important yet little-understood subject.” —Booklist

And while these reviewers’ words have shed some light on these terrible injustices, it is only Britney Spears’ guardianship case that gets headlines. However, what Dr. Sugar’s book has done is create a small army of dedicated advocates around the country. All of whom have become knowledgeable about this system and its faults after reading the book. In addition, the book has served as a catalyst for change and legitimized the sincere and fervent complaints from victims and families nationwide. Until such time as the government mandates the collection of legitimate data on guardianships, it can be said that there is now no more reliable source for information about this problem than Guardianships and the Elderly. And at least now, for the family members and friends of those trapped in this system, Dr. Sugar’s book is there to help them see what lies in front of them—and what, if anything, they can do to help.

Kind regards,

Rudy Shur, Publisher
Square One Publishers, Inc.
www.SquareOnePublishers.com
Ph: 516-535-2010 x 111
Email: SQ1publish@aol.com

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NOTES FROM A DYSLEXIC PUBLISHER # 7

Posted: 2021/08/09

The Point
As a publisher, you never know when one book can turn into three.
When we published Taking Woodstock, the story behind the gay man who saved the
legendary 1969 Woodstock Arts & Music Festival, that was only the first tale of his amazing life.


Garden City Park, NY: Several years ago, I was introduced to a gentleman who wanted his manuscript to be published. His parents had owned a motel up in Bethel, New York from the late 1950s into the 1960s called the “El Monaco.” As it turned out, in 1969 this man had become the president of the Bethel Chamber of Commerce—and in this position, he had the ability to grant legal permits for the staging of parades, theatrical shows . . . and outdoor festivals.

As he explained it to me, he was the one who had invited the producers of the Woodstock Festival to come to Bethel in hopes that their concert might be held on his parents’ land. About fifty miles away, the town of Wallkill had just revoked the Woodstock Ventures’ permit to hold the festival there, and the producers were in a bind. This gentleman, named Elliot Tiber, made a call to the Woodstock producers. That same day, their core team came to the motel. Unfortunately, most of the El Monaco property resembled a vast wetland, and the Woodstock team quickly rejected Elliot’s offer as they felt their feet sinking into the ground with each step. As they were leaving, in equal parts of desperation and chutzpah, Tiber suggested to Woodstock leader Mike Lang that he and his people next visit a neighbor’s nearby dairy farm instead. Elliot knew the farm owner, and he would be happy to call and see if Lang and company could come by while they were still there. Tiber made the call, and the rest is history. Max Yasgur agreed to rent his property, and the Woodstock Arts & Music Festival of 1969 was soon to become a legendary event—care of Elliot Tiber’s being able to grant them that crucial festival permit.

Of course, this was not the initial focus of Elliot’s material. His manuscript was about the bands and singers who stayed at the El Monaco motel, in a way that read more like a stand-up comedy routine than a book. While his work was funny, its story didn’t add that much to the dozens of other books already out there on Woodstock. As I soon learned, however, he was someone who did not give up very easily. He called me numerous times, and while I advised him to look elsewhere, he chose not to do so. As we continued to speak, I asked him more questions about the events that preceded his call to the Woodstock producers along with the many paths his life had taken during that time frame. How, for instance, did he wind up working at his parents’ ramshackle motel? As we chatted, I learned how similar his childhood had been to mine. He and I both had wacky Jewish mothers named Sonia. He discovered he was gay at a young age, and as luck would have it, he had been caught up in the Stonewall Inn riots of late June 1969. For myself, I discovered I was straight at a young age as well when I fell head over heels for Shirley Jones as “Marian the Librarian” in The Music Man—and as luck would have it, 1969 was the year I married my wife, Erica.

The more that Elliot and I talked, the more I realized that he had a real story to tell—one that did not center on the Woodstock festival, as much as it did on his own life at that time. From that last conversation, I introduced him to the talented writer, Tom Monte, and the book he had wanted—with a great deal of twists and turns—was soon on its way to being written. Anthony Pomes, our marketing director, came up with the perfect title, Taking Woodstock: The True Story of a Riot, a Concert and a Life. About six months after the book was released in the early spring of 2007, we received a call from Oscar-winning director, Ang Lee, who wanted to make the feature film adaptation of the book—and in the Summer of 2009, forty years after that first Woodstock of 1969, the movie was released. The book was better, but then again, I might be a little biased. But there was more to Elliot’s story.

Over the next few years, Elliot and I became friends and continued to talk. He filled in further the many details of his growing up in Brooklyn, his early feelings about being gay, his becoming a successful interior designer in Manhattan, and how it all came crashing down one night. That was the night he and his idol, Judy Garland, had to hide behind a table together in the dining hall to avoid the fight that had broken out aboard the ship they were on—and why he wound up working at his parents’ motel on most weekends, away from the city. I thought if that story were put together, it would make just as fascinating tale as the first—and so did Elliot. A year later, Elliot handed in his prequel, Palm Trees on the Hudson: A True Story of the Mob, Judy Garland, and Interior Decorating. The book received rave reviews such as “Thought-provoking, fun, meaningful, educational, and historical . . . supremely fantastic writing,” (Feathered Quill Book Reviews), “Exceptionally well-written . . . [a] rags-to-riches-and-back-again riveter,”(BookPleasures.com ), and “[Tiber’s] recollections of Manhattan society and being gay in the 1960s are priceless” (syndicated columnist The Bookworm Sez), among many others. Just this past year, Palm Trees also won the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Book Award in the category of “Best Audiobook – Nonfiction.”

As our friendly banter continued, a third book emerged, After Woodstock: The True Story of a Belgian Movie, an Israeli Wedding, and a Manhattan Breakdown with a Foreword by Ang Lee. To quote the Publishers Weekly review, “Tiber delivers a wonderful account of survival while wrestling with creativity, loss, tragedy, and disconnection from traditional family values.”

Elliot Tiber led a most interesting life filled with dreams, adventures, successes —and yes, his fair share of failures. And yet, he imbued each of his stories with the unique humor of someone who chose never to give up. Elliot passed away in August 2016. The truth for me as a publisher, though, is the fact that his life story could not have ever been told in just one title. It took three books to embrace his rich and ultimately triumphant life. I will continue to miss our talks—but then again, I can always re-read one of his books whenever I need to be in his world again. You might enjoy reading them as well.

Kind regards,

Rudy Shur, Publisher
Square One Publishers, Inc.
www.SquareOnePublishers.com
Ph: 516-535-2010 x 111
Email: SQ1publish@aol.com

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NOTES FROM A DYSLEXIC PUBLISHER # 6

Posted: 2021/07/07

The Point
Sometimes there are reasons for publishing books
that are more important than turning a profit.
The Holocaust, for example.

A few years ago, I was given the opportunity to publish a book on a subject that was new to my company’s list. With no experience in bringing out such a title, I needed to learn as much as I could about its marketplace. After making numerous phone calls to various book retailers, I learned that while this subject was popular in fiction, there was only one nonfiction title on the topic that seemed to sell well year after year. Since the book I was looking at was nonfiction, my business sense should have dictated that I not go ahead with the project. However, the subject—for me, at least—was too important to be dismissed. It had, in fact, been a part of my life since I was a child.

As fate would have it, I was born in an American “DP” (Displaced Persons) camp just outside of Munich, Germany. My parents were lucky enough to have escaped the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. They had managed to make their way into the Soviet Union just as the German Army swept into western Poland. When the Nazis invaded Russia, my folks found themselves in the middle of the bloody Battle of Stalingrad. Again they escaped, making it all the way to Uzbekistan in the east. As the war came to a close, they knew that the Soviet Union was not where they wanted to spend the rest of their lives.

My parents had heard about American camps set up for Jewish refugees, and that was where they decided to go. So with my mom eight months pregnant, they made the trek back across the USSR to that DP camp in Germany—the place where I was soon born. One year later, my parents and I boarded a ship to New York. My parents’ sponsoring organization—the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)—placed us in a five-story walk-up located in an ethnically diverse south Bronx neighborhood that included Puerto Ricans, Blacks, and many other Jewish refugee families.

My father had taken with him several postcards from the DP camp that the US Army had produced, each of which showed graphic photographs of the many atrocities carried out in the Nazi-run concentration camps. The Army had given out the cards to the civilian German population to show what the Nazis had done.

I don’t believe my father ever wanted me to see those cards, but being a nosy ten-year-old kid, I eventually came across them in our small apartment—and to this day, I still remember many of the images. When I spoke to my father about the postcards, he tried to explain what had happened—that his grandmother, mother, two brothers, and six sisters, along with their entire families, had died in those terrible places. I certainly heard what he was telling me, but at the time, it seemed very distant.

As I grew up, I learned as much as I could about World War Two and what the Nazis had done—not only to the Jews, but also to Catholics, gypsies, gays, and anyone else that the Third Reich regarded as “impure.” It may have taken years for me to understand and appreciate what my folks had experienced, but it all came to a head with the book project that I found before me. It was a book about the Holocaust, and how one Jewish man had escaped into the Polish forest, where he would spend much of WWII fighting the Nazis alongside other brave partisans. What made this story that much more meaningful to me was the fact that I had met the man who lived it and survived to write about it.

That man was Shalom Yoran, and his book is The Defiant ($15.95 USD, ISBN: 978-0-7570-0078-2). As it turned out, Mr. Yoran had recorded his story a year or two after the war and then put it away, hoping one day to have the manuscript published. However, life got in the way, and he stumbled upon his writings about forty-five years later. With his manuscript in hand, I had the opportunity to publish it as a paperback. And while the book received rave reviews, its sales were slow.

A few years later, I was given an opportunity to publish the translated memoir of a young Polish Catholic priest who had been caught up in the Holocaust. Historically, the Catholic Church has had a powerful influence on the Polish people. For the Nazis to gain absolute control in that country, the solution was simple—the clergy had to be destroyed. Father Kazimierz Majdanski, who would later become an archbishop, was not prepared for the events that were to follow his arrest. You Shall Be My Witnesses ($17.95 USD, ISBN: 978-0-7570-0223-6) is his extraordinary memoir, which chronicles his experiences and the test of faith he underwent during that time. It is an amazingly insightful book, appreciated by only a small number of readers thus far.

And then came Marty Brounstein, a writer and gifted lecturer, who traveled around the country giving talks to groups of people on the Holocaust—until his untimely death last year. He focused his lectures on individual true stories of rescuers and survivors—remarkable tales of those who had endured the hells of ghettos and concentration camps, and of the women who fought beside the men to rescue prisoners and remind the Nazis that they were still vulnerable.

Brounstein’s first book, The Righteous Few ($16.95 USD, ISBN: 978-0-7570-0497-1), is the story of a young married Christian couple, Frans and Mien Wijnakker, living in the Netherlands. Through their extraordinary bravery, and at their own peril, they provided a safe haven for dozens of Jewish men and women who faced certain death if found by the Nazis. Brounstein’s second book, Woman of Valor ($16.95 USD, ISBN: 978-0-7570-0503-9), tells the story of Eta Chait, a young Jewish woman who was forced to live in a Polish ghetto along with her parents and siblings. Eta joined a resistance group in order to escape, and later, she returned to help free the rest of her family—with unexpected consequences. From that moment, Eta’s mission was clear. She would do everything she could to defeat the Nazis and to save as many Jews as possible. These are two amazing tales—tales of which a great many readers remain unaware.

And why do so few people know the stories of these great men and women? While novels about the Holocaust provide intriguing storylines, true stories about this period in history are written not to entertain, but to remind us how cruel people can be—and how individuals can take a stand against insane behavior. These books are in Square One’s list to remind readers that the Holocaust did happen—and that until we understand the nature of lies and their ability to gradually distort facts, history will continue to repeat itself. The fact that bookstores, libraries, and museum shops do not carry many nonfiction Holocaust-based titles is telling. And while Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl remains popular, Square One will continue to make available other stories that are just as compelling as Anne Frank’s story.

Kind regards,

Rudy Shur, Publisher
Square One Publishers, Inc.
www.SquareOnePublishers.com
Ph: 516-535-2010 x 111
Email: SQ1publish@aol.com

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NOTES FROM A DYSLEXIC PUBLISHER # 5

Posted: 2021/06/02

The Point

Turning a mass market paperback into a trivia game
as challenging and fun to play as Jeopardy! or Trivial Pursuit
is anything but trivial.


I confess. I am a nerd. I love watching Jeopardy! and playing trivia games. One of the benefits of publishing nonfiction titles is that you pick up a lot of interesting but “useless” information. The real test comes when you are called upon to remember any one fact floating around your head. For years, every Tuesday night, my teammates and I had played a trivia game called Buzztime at a restaurant called Houlihan’s. The game is played by watching a TV monitor that flashes a series of questions on a TV screen with five numbered answers from which to choose. You have only 30 seconds in which to press in your selected answer into a playbox that each team member is given. The longer it takes to answer a question correctly, the less points you receive. Get it wrong, and you get nothing. Now, there are two ways you can compete. You can either play against the other players assembled there at your location, or you and your friends can play as a team in real time against thousands of other teams located around the US and Canada. It has always been a lot of fun.

Over the years, I have purchased several trivia books that promoted themselves as “fun to play” but that were decidedly not. To get the answers, for instance, I found that you had to either keep turning to the back of the book—trying, all the while, not to see the answers to the next questions—or you had to instead turn the book upside down, and again try not to see the other answers. I had always thought there had to be a better way. While being dyslexic may screw up several of your cognitive skills, it also sometimes forces you to think outside the “game” box.

The challenge was to put together a trivia game in book form that didn’t give away answers to the reader.

THE ANSWER: What if you set up a row of four questions on each page, but instead of reading the questions from top to bottom, the game was played by turning to the next page where the answer appeared to the right of the next question in that row. It was definitely different, but it worked.

Now it was a matter of getting some really good questions.

THE ANSWER: Reach out to Buzztime, the company behind the trivia games I had been playing for years, and see if they would be interest in providing us with some questions. They loved the idea, but something was still missing.

How do I get people who don’t necessary know what Buzztime is to notice the trivia book?

THE ANSWER: Try to get some celebrities to help choose the questions in their respective fields and attach their names to each title, and that’s what we did.

To start out, we first got the legendary TV host Joe “Memory Lane” Franklin for all things showbiz. We then got basketball great Rick Barry for sports. For rock ’n roll, we were able to get Micky Dolenz, actor/singer of the ’60s pop sensation, The Monkees. For all things TV, we got beloved Eight Is Enough dad Dick Van Patten; and for all things movie, we locked in with comic improv genius Fred Willard. The books were all coming together, but one piece of the puzzle was still missing.

In nearly all the trivia games I had ever played, the answers to the questions were usually very short. As a nerd, I always wanted to know a little more about the answers to questions I didn’t know.

FINAL ANSWER: Provide more facts about each of the answers in all the books. And that’s how the Buzztime Trivia Series was put together. So if you love playing trivia, these books are a great way to play anytime and anywhere—without needing Wi-Fi or batteries.

And to all my nerdy friends out there, here’s one of my favorite questions:

Q. Who was President of the American government before George Washington?

  1. John Hanson
  2. William Penn
  3. Alexander Hamilton
  4. Jonathan Reese
  5. John Adams

Answer below.

Yours in all things (trivial or otherwise),

Rudy Shur, Publisher
Square One Publishers, Inc.
www.SquareOnePublishers.com
Ph: 516-535-2010 x 111
Email: SQ1publish@aol.com

P.S. Here below is a link to our list of “Trivia” titles. Work hard, play hard!

http://squareonepublishers.com/Search/Category/Trivia

A.   https://www.thoughtco.com/john-hanson-biography-4178170

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NOTES FROM A DYSLEXIC PUBLISHER # 4

Posted: 2021/05/03

The Point
Selecting the books you wish to publish
can be part of a well-structured business plan. On the other hand,
it can come from a place far more personal . . . such as cancer.

It was 2007. I had already been publishing books on the topic of cancer for a number of years—covering both conventional and alternative approaches. Through the process, I had learned a good deal about cancer by speaking to many doctors and cancer survivors who wanted to share their knowledge and stories. I would have thought that I would be better prepared for the day my wife was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. For the most part, I knew that thyroid cancer was highly curable. What I was to learn, though, was that there are two rare and especially deadly forms of thyroid cancers out there, and my wife had one of them. It was called Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer (ATC), and based upon the medical statistics available to me, only one to two percent of those diagnosed with ATC survive. The news was difficult to hear, and reading about the disease on the internet only made things worse. All the medical websites that we visited described the illness as “Fatal.” We needed a decisive course of action—quickly.

The first thing we did was to find, contact, and visit a reputable, well-established cancer hospital. The physicians with whom we met were nothing less than honest about my wife’s tough prognosis. Given the short time she was told she had left—only three weeks to three months—my wife wanted to undergo the conventional treatments of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. As her treatment progressed, I contacted every one of the cancer specialists and alternative doctors that I knew. Each and every one of them came back to me with the same response: They knew of no existing treatment, alternative or otherwise, that showed any measurable effect in the fight against this particular cancer. The hospital, now in charge of my wife’s treatment, was conducting a number of clinical trials with an always-evolving source of newly developed drugs, but the results for ATC were poor.

The day before Christmas 2007, my wife underwent her first operation. While my family and I sat together in the hospital’s waiting room, my daughter-in-law told me about an article she had just read in The Wall Street Journal. It was about a father whose seven-year-old son had been diagnosed with a different type of rare and aggressive cancer. There was a treatment for it, but if it failed, the cancer would likely return and go on to kill the child. His child underwent the treatment, and while the initial results were good, the cancer came back. The father had learned about a psychology professor at U of C at San Diego, who was given a similar diagnosis and told to go home and prepare to tie up any loose ends before his death. But the professor did something very different. Without any medical protocols to follow, he put together a mix of natural supplements and off-label drugs that all had been shown to reverse or disrupt cancer cell growth in some manner. Working closely with his son’s doctor, the father used the same approach for his son that the San Diego professor had employed—and the treatment worked. I must have read that article ten times.

While my wife continued to undergo conventional treatments, together we searched for a qualified oncologist who would be willing to work with us. As luck would have it, we found one. Once my wife’s full set of treatments had been completed, our new doctor provided us with a wide assortment of natural supplements and off-label drugs that my wife was to take—every day. Her cancer came back twice, and she was operated on twice. But when it came back, the pathology report showed that the disease had changed. It was still ATC, but it now presented no positive margins (hair-like growths that extend beyond the edge of the tumor’s malignant tissue). Unlike the original tumors that had been surgically excised, the new cancer cells were nowhere near as aggressive as the original cells. After a third operation, my wife appeared to be free of cancer. The hospital doctor called her his “miracle patient.” However, he did not want to know what we had done after all the hospital treatments had been completed. That was twelve years ago, and I am lucky enough to still have my wife with me—still cancer-free.

Based on what my wife’s experiences, it took me two years after her initial prognosis to convince the alternative oncologist with whom we had worked to write a book based on this approach. Beyond the Magic Bullet: The Anti-Cancer Cocktail ($16.95 USD, ISBN: 978-0-7570-0232-8) by Dr. Raymond Chang was the book I had the honor of publishing. And, as it turned out, the San Diego psychology professor and cancer survivor from The Wall Street Journal article—Dr. Ben Williams—was kind enough to write the book’s Foreword.

But there was more to come. After the intense radiation treatments my wife had endured, she had a very hard time swallowing foods. Her throat had partially closed due to the swelling, and she was in pain every time she tried to eat. I called another of my Square One authors—Sandy Woodruff, RD, one of this country’s top nutritionists—and asked for help. Working with fellow nutritionist Dr. Leah Gilbert-Henderson, Sandy was able to create a dietary program that allowed my wife to minimize her pain while maximizing her nutritional intake from a bevy of foods that she could actually swallow. Based on the success of their work, Sandy and Dr. Gilbert-Henderson then wrote what would become Square One’s best-selling special needs title, Soft Foods for Easier Eating Cookbook ($18.95 USD, ISBN: 978-0-7570-0290-8). Once the book was out, we learned that there were a great many other health conditions that could benefit from the recipes in our book.

Three years ago, as my wife continued to live a happy and productive cancer-free existence, her breathing started becoming a problem. The three operations performed on her lungs to remove the cancer had taken their toll. I wanted once again to do all I could to find a way to improve her breathing, so I called another one of my authors. Meera Patricia Kerr is a top yoga instructor who teaches people how to breathe properly. She said that she could help and that she also had a friend—Dr. Sandra McLanahan, MD—who could provide some valuable medical guidance. The information that she and Dr. McLanahan compiled became the basis for one of Square One’s newest books, Take a Deep Breath ($16.95 USD, ISBN: 978-0-7570-0481-0). As my wife and I learned, breathing issues can be caused by a large number of disorders, beyond just my wife’s condition.

I had never planned to publish these three titles, but when you’re an independent publisher, sometimes your work does become personal. You may be doing it for your own reasons, but you also know that there are people out there, just like my wife, who are affected by any number of debilitating health disorders. And you come to realize that it’s really not about producing a bestseller, but about providing essential information to people who need it. It’s just a guess, but that might be one of the reasons that Square One is now one of the leading health book publishers in the United States—just an unplanned benefit.

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NOTES FROM A DYSLEXIC PUBLISHER #3

Posted: 2021/03/19

The Point
When trying to get attention for any groundbreaking title,
always be mindful of the difficulties involved in
getting your author’s message out.

Garden City Park, NY: Independent publishers have many reasons for bringing out the books they do. Most people never have an opportunity to see what’s behind the curtain. These are two “inside” stories that I thought I would share.

Early on in my publishing career, I was lucky enough to learn about alternative approaches to personal health. It began when my house produced a guide on the various uses and benefits of vitamins and minerals. Prior to the book’s publication, few books—if any—listed the amount of nutrients one might take on a daily basis. If they did, they always drew data straight from the USDA’s recommended list of nutrients—a list that was created back in the 1950s, and which focused solely on the minimal amounts necessary to ward off various diseases. My author believed that, based upon newly published studies, these long-established dosage levels did not provide the appropriate amount of nutrients for optimal health. We made sure to include a References section that comprised about twenty percent of the book, just to ensure that our readers could double-check the latest research then available.

Although I may have been naïve, what surprised me the most was the lack of reaction our title received from the mainstream media. When I checked into why the book was either being ignored or questioned, I learned that the media would first pass along any and all books that dealt with nutrition to a pre-selected team of far more “old school” nutritionists and/or doctors for their review. While the book went on to do quite well, that was the first time I learned that there already existed these established but largely hidden and self-interested barriers in the area of consumer health titles.

While I believed then—and now—in both conventional and complementary medicine, from that point on I came to realize that there were two routes through which to garner attention for our health books. One was a relatively easy path as long as you chose not to rock the boat. The other, for boat rockers? Not so easy.

A number of the books that I have chosen to publish over the years because of their importance seem to have run into more than one informational roadblock along the way. Consider the following:

When medical anthropologist Sydney Ross Singer, first approached me with his book proposal, I was somewhat taken aback by it. He and his wife/fellow medical anthropologist, Soma Grismaijer, had conducted a survey to see if wearing tight-fitting bras might increase a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer. The results showed that they did. I needed more information, though, and Sydney swiftly provided me with more. Apparently, according to Sydney and Soma, tight bras would impair the natural flow of lymph in and around the breast area—and this constriction allowed toxins to remain trapped in the breast tissue. What their research also showed was that many women would wear their bras twenty-four hours each day. Based on the compelling information presented in their manuscript, I decided to go ahead with the book’s publication. We named the book Dressed to Kill: The Link Between Breast Cancer and Bras.

Approximately a week after we publicly announced the book’s forthcoming release date, I received a call from a woman who said she represented an intimate apparel trade association. She had heard about the book, and was calling to let me know that Sydney Singer had lied about receiving his master’s degree from Duke University—and as such, she further warned that the book I was now slated to publish would likely be rife with misinformation. I have to admit that this alleged revelation did throw me. I said I would check into it and, if she was right, I would then pull the plug on the book’s publication. She then warned me that if we still chose to bring the book out, her association would sue us. That warning struck me both as strange and a little desperate. After all, if she already knew that our author was lying about his credentials, then why would she also need to threaten my company with a lawsuit?

Once that call was finished, I promptly called Duke University and was connected to a person in their Student Records department. Normally, schools don’t provide such information over the phone. After I explained about the call that I had just received the person on the other end of the line told me to wait a few minutes—and sure enough, a few minutes later she confirmed that Singer had indeed graduated from Duke with a master’s degree in Anthropology. We went on to publish the book on time and as publicized—and we never did get sued by that intimate apparel association.

Dressed to Kill is now in its second edition, and it has actually helped pave the way for some changes in the world of bra fashion—doing away with metal underwires and producing looser-fitting bras. It has also encouraged the “Go Bra-Free” movement, and the book’s findings have been further validated by dozens of other studies around the world. What it has not yet done is to impel medical authorities here in the US to call for more research into this important bra/breast cancer link. If the Nurses’ Health Study group, which focuses on cancer, were to investigate—at very little cost to them—whether bras do cause cancer—just imagine how many women could be spared the suffering associated with this disease. Unfortunately, while the group refuses to even consider underwriting such a study, the fight continues on here in our times.

Meanwhile, the inner workings of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) would never have been a subject that I’d choose to pursue—until one of my authors introduced me to Dr. Renee Joy Dufault. Dr. Dufault had worked for the US Public Health Service specializing in toxicology, environmental health, and industrial hygiene. As such, she had been sent to work at the FDA as an investigator. Her assignment was to go to food production and distribution plants throughout the country, and to report on the relative quality of the foods that were being manufactured there. She was called upon to collect samples of the foods, and to then send them over to a food laboratory for fuller content analysis.

After sending several samples out from the various plants she had visited, the results came back. The lab report showed that the samples she had submitted contained traces of heavy metals (e.g., mercury and lead), pesticides, and other dangerous contaminants at levels far higher than the standards set by the FDA. Thinking the lab may have made a mistake, she submitted new samples to be analyzed a second time. The same results appeared in the new analysis. Based on these findings, Dr. Dufault prepared a full report that she then submitted to her immediate supervisor at the FDA. The next day, she was told that her assignment was over—and no further explanation was provided. When she asked to have the report included in the FDA’s online site, she was denied. It was not until the publication of her book with Square One—Unsafe at Any Meal: What the FDA Does Not Want You to Know About the Foods You Eat—that this information was made public. And yet, as important as this story is to the health and well-being of children and adults alike, too few people are aware of Dr. Dufault’s disturbing discovery.

In spite of all the time and effort that the Square One team has put into getting this book the attention it so rightfully deserves, the mainstream media seems to have ignored Dr. Dufault’s findings. Yes, the book has had excellent reviews and Dr. Dufault has appeared on numerous local radio shows. Still, those barriers to her receiving a greater visibility have seemingly been snapped into place. Is it too outrageous to think that the FDA would hide the fact that the processed foods that many of us eat every day help cause so many of our current health disorders?  Perhaps, but the facts don’t lie.

As an independent publisher of such titles, I have come to understand just how difficult it can be to get these messages out. That should never become a reason to avoid moving forward, though. If anything, barriers can often strengthen one’s resolve. In these chaotic and often worrisome times, it’s still vital to provide a viable platform from which authors with an important message can be heard.

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NOTES FROM A DYSLEXIC PUBLISHER #2

Posted: 2021/02/01

The Point
When publishing books outside your company’s usual focus
—in this case, memoirs—make sure the writer knows it.

 

Garden City Park, NY: Independent publishers have many reasons for bringing out the books they do. Most people never have an opportunity to see what’s behind the curtain. This is just one of the stories I thought I would share.

When I started in publishing, I specialized in non-fiction titles designed to provide self-help to readers in any number of subjects—from college textbooks to childbirth to health. I sought out highly qualified authors, and I made sure to understand the marketplaces—that is, where my company could sell these types of books. Being an independently owned publisher does allow you the opportunity to take chances now and then on some interesting project—as long as you and the author each don’t mind taking risks. Why does the author take a risk? Because, as I explain to some of my authors, if your publisher doesn’t already have the experience of publishing a title in a certain market, you’re probably better off finding another publisher who does. Still, every so often a project comes along that pulls you out of your comfort zone—even in spite of your advance warnings to the author. That’s pretty much how I started publishing memoirs at Square One.

In 2005, I got a call from one of my authors about a gentleman she had met who was interested in finding a publisher for his book. She explained that if it weren’t for him, the world famous 1969 Woodstock Festival might never have taken place. “Would you mind if he called you?” she asked. “Sure, why not?” I responded. The story had certainly gotten my attention, but it was more out of curiosity than actual publishing interest, A day or two later, I received a call from one Elliot Tiber. It turned out that at about age 32, Elliot had been made the President of the Chamber of Commerce of Bethel, New York. As such, he had the sole authority to issue valid public performance permits to groups that wanted to put on fairs, plays, and concerts. He then went on to tell me that his mother and father ran a motel near the Yasgur’s farm where the Woodstock festival was staged, and that the concert producers had used the motel to house many of the stagehands and performers. He had put together a manuscript, and asked if I would be interested in taking a look at it? I said yes.

A few days later, I received Tiber’s manuscript. What I got could have been great as a standup comedy routine, but it wasn’t exactly what I could see as a book about what had happened back during that Summer of ‘69. So I called him up and told him what I thought. Not having really published any memoirs before, I said he should really be looking for a bigger publisher that would be better equipped in how to sell his book. That was the beginning of many phone calls he would make, telling me how none of the larger houses wanted to publish his book. As we spoke, I would ask him questions about how he got to become the guy who issued licenses to concerts and fairs. As he began telling me about the various aspects of his life, I realized that there was so much more to his story. It really wasn’t as much about the Woodstock festival as it was about him, his parents, and the motel. He had a story, but it turned out he had neglected to put into his original manuscript.

I asked him if he could go back and rewrite the manuscript based upon the larger story at the center of his life back then; To my amazement, he said he could not. He had no problem writing comedic bits, but didn’t think that he could write about his own life outright. I told him to hang back, and to let me see what I could do. That’s when I called a friend of mine, New York Times bestselling author Tom Monte, and told him about Elliot and his story. I must have been a good storyteller because by the time I had finished, he said he was in. By early 2007, Taking Woodstock by Elliot Tiber with Tom Monte was released. Initially, the reviews were very good, but sales were slow. As a publisher, our relative lack of experience selling memoirs at Square One was probably showing. However, about six months later, we received a call from Oscar-winning movie director Ang Lee and his producing partner, James Schamus—they wanted to turn Elliot’s story into a movie. The fortieth anniversary of the Woodstock festival was scheduled for August 2009, and that’s when they wanted the movie to come out. Once we signed the agreement with Focus Features, we let the media know about Elliot’s story becoming the basis of Ang Lee’s next film—and from there, the book’s domestic and foreign sales took off like a shot. Not too bad, for a publishing house that didn’t really do memoirs.

Over the years, Elliot got over his reluctance to write about his life, and we brought out a prequel—Palm Trees on the Hudson—and his later life adventures in a sequel, After Woodstock—both of which won rave reviews and now comprise what we often refer to in-house as “The Tiber Trilogy.”

It has been some time since we released Elliot’s memoirs, and I hadn’t been looking for another memoir to publish—that is, until I had a rather interesting conversation with Fred Engh, the founder of the National Alliance for Youth Sports, and one of my authors whose books focused on improving sports for kids were ones that I had already published. This conversation took place last May—about three months after the New York State COVID-19 shutdown, and only a few days after George Floyd’s death. The country was beset by marches, all in protest of the horrific way that Floyd had been killed. Fred told me how he understood the pain that the Black community was going through. Since Fred is white, I didn’t quite understand what he meant and told him so. He said it was a long story. With the COVID-19 shutdown in place, though, I certainly had time to listen.

Fred told me it all began with his being accepted to Maryland State College in 1961. He was living in a trailer camp with his wife and their two children—and a third child on the way. By going to Maryland State, he could earn his degree in Physical Education and go on to become a PE teacher—something with a better future for them all. Interesting, but I wasn’t sure how this connected up with the Floyd protest marches. Fred then asked, “You know I’m white, right?” I said yes, and he proceeded to point out to me that Maryland State was an all-Black college, and he became their first-ever white student—an experience that had pretty much shaped the course of his life. It turned out that Fred had joined the college golf team in that year, he and his team mates won their state championship. The more he told me about his experiences of racism—particularly as he traveled around the state with his fellow Black team mates for golf matches—the  more I knew that this was a timely story that could make a great book. And so this coming March, we will be releasing Matchsticks: An Education in Black and White by Fred Engh with Jann Seal. It’s a story about racism, friendship, and golf. What else can you ask for?

Am I taking on a risk for Square One by bringing out another memoir? Will my house experience a backlash by bringing out this unconventional yet resonant story of ’60s segregation in Maryland? Maybe. But one of the perks of being an indie publisher is the ability to bring out stories that you think are worth telling.

If you’re reading this, Ang, feel free to give me a call.
Regards,
Rudy Shur, Publisher
Square One Publishers, Inc.

P.S. Here below is the link to all of our Bio/Memoir titles:

http://squareonepublishers.com/Search/Category/BiosMemoirs

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NOTES FROM A DYSLEXIC PUBLISHER - # 1

Posted: 2021/01/13

The Point

Were it not for my having to face my own personal demons,
some of my best books might never have been published.

Garden City Park, NY: Independent publishers have a lot of reasons for bringing out the books they do. Most people never have an opportunity to see what’s behind the curtain. This is just one of the stories I thought I would share with you.

Square One Publishers is my second book publishing company, and will soon be twenty-one years old. I’ve been lucky enough to have brought out my share of successful titles. Over the years, I have spoken to many author groups on the topic of how to get their books published. That led me to write a book called How to Publish Your Nonfiction Book for authors with no clue as to the best way to approach a commercial publisher. One of the things I bring up whenever I speak to these folks is the fact that I am dyslexic—and because of that, I’m never quite sure what will come out of my mouth as I talk. It gets a laugh, but it also happens to be true.

As bad as dyslexia can be, it was actually the thing that first motivated my interest in books. When I was younger, on open school nights, I heard a teacher say to my mother, “He seems so smart, but what’s wrong with him?” This was before a learning disability was a recognized thing. By the time I hit middle school age, I thought everyone else had my problem but had outgrown or overcome it as they got older. Maybe I was a late bloomer—or at least, that was what I told myself.

Then I came up with an idea. I would take a book out of the library, and work at reading it straight through from start to finish. I thought that the more books I read, the more I could make this problem go away. And while it took me a long time to get through each title I took out, I simply forced myself to do it. My problem with words never went away, but I discovered that I really enjoyed reading books. After graduating college and working towards earning my master’s degree in history, I went in May 1970 for an interview as a sales rep for a college textbook company. Nervous as I was, I got the job, and I have never looked back.

Over the years, I had often wished that someone had told my parents that I had a learning problem when I was a kid; but then, perhaps my life would have turned out differently, and I wouldn’t be writing this note to you. What I have always known is that school should not have been as hard as it was for me back then. That experience planted a seed in me early—I thought that as a publisher, working to produce books for parents whose children have learning disabilities might be a helpful and worthy pursuit. And I’m proud to say that this has remained one of my top priorities in turning out books at Square One.

Things really began to click for me in the 1980s, when I first met child education pioneer Glenn Doman and his daughter, Janet. Glenn was the founder of The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential, located just outside of Philadelphia. The Institutes had developed a set of groundbreaking teaching techniques designed to help educate average and special needs children alike. Being shown around their facility, while also getting to meet some of their staff and students, was an amazing experience. My friendship with the Domans led me to publish nine of their titles. The “Gentle Revolution Series” has gone on to become this country’s bestselling parenting series, with over 13 million copies in print.

Watching a TV segment several years ago on 60 Minutes, I saw an interview with an educator and psychologist named Helen Irlen, who had devised a unique system of improving or eliminating the effects of dyslexia with the applied use of different colored lenses. Appearing on that news piece was a dyslexic girl from Australia, who Helen first asked to read aloud a paragraph without the help of her colored lenses. As she read before the camera, her hesitant and uncertain tone reminded me of, well, me. She then put on a pair of Irlen’s colored-lens glasses; and when she read the same paragraph out loud this time, she read it perfectly. I was blown away. On the following Monday, I tracked Helen down and introduced myself as a publisher who was dyslexic and wanted to know more. A few weeks later, I took a flight to the Irlen Institute in Long Beach, California—to meet with her, but also to be tested. What I discovered was that her lenses work beautifully for some people, but not for everyone—including me.

That wasn’t the end for me, though. I went on to learn that there are a number of things that can cause one’s brain to misinterpret the words and numbers that one sees. And while these causes are different, the end result for all remains the same—dyslexia. For those who see print that becomes distorted or have headaches or other physical symptoms when reading, these Irlen lenses might very well be the cure. I have published Helen Irlen’s book The Irlen Revolution, and Square One will soon be coming out with a new Irlen-based book for parents to use with their child called The Word Gobblers by a dedicated Irlen method educator Catherine Matthias.

These are only a few of the titles Square One has come out with over the years to help parents overcome their children’s learning difficulties. And while I am still dyslexic, many of the people who have learned about and worn the Irlen lenses as a result of our books have had their world changed. As I learned many years ago after that first fateful trip to the library, books can change your life. My colleagues and I at Square One remain proud and committed to making the kinds of books that aim to bring about positive change for all who embrace them.

Regards,

Rudy Shur, Publisher
Square One Publishers, Inc.

P.S. Here below is the link to our list of "Learning Disabilities" titles. Perhaps someone you know could use a little help:

http://www.squareonepublishers.com/Search/Category/LearningDisabilities

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