Many Paragon House titles have been recognized for their contributions, including The Woman Who Defied Kings: The Life and Times of Doña Gracia Nasi, by Andrée Aelion Brooks, which was awarded the Mark Twain Award from the Connecticut Press Association.
Dr. Anderson expressed his own appreciation for this particular title and award, calling it the most important award received during his tenure as President at Paragon House.
“This book was not only assiduously written, but [also] served to shatter stereotypes of women in the Middle Ages, and it promotes the cause of interreligious and intercultural harmony,” he explained. In this way, Brooks’s title is an emblem of Paragon House’s mission to break down cultural and social barriers and misconceptions.
Another award-winning title from Paragon House is The Radiance of Being by author and Professor Allan Combs, which was named best book of the year by the Scientific and Medical Network in the UK. This title is one of the several books in Paragon House’s Omega Books series.
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Addressing Contemporary Issues to Make a Difference
Paragon House publishes books with an eye to make an impact. By addressing and tackling many of the social and contemporary issues facing readers in today’s economy and society, Paragon House does its part to make a difference in reader’s lives and in their awareness of hot-button issues.
Paragon House’s catalog spans the categories of ethics, women’s studies, political philosophy, integral studies, social thought, economics, contemporary values, social sciences, world peace, and globalization, to name a few. Paragon House also features several book series, including the Issues in Philosophy series; books on environmental issues; books on world religion; the Liberal Democratic Societies series on contemporary democracy; and books on genocide. Paragon House’s Omega Books seriesincludes books on human development and reality.
When Dr. Gordon L. Anderson, editor-in-chief of International Journal on World Peace and president of Paragon House, was asked how Paragon House selects the books that comprise these many series, he gave a short list of practical criteria. First on his list was that “the book should be a contribution to knowledge or to the betterment of the reader and society.” This philosophy guides Paragon House’s book acquisition and has been part of the Paragon House mission statement since its inception.
The company evolved from the acquisition of a former corporation by the International Cultural Foundation (ICF). According to the Paragon House website, the company stemmed from the Paragon Book Reprint Corporation, which “was incorporated in 1963 in New York City with an emphasis on reprinting books in Asian philosophy.”
Dr. Anderson explained, “Paragon Book Reprint was purchased in 1981 by the ICF, which gave it significant funding to produce books of cultural importance, and to provide a forum for scholars that worked with the Foundation.” Paragon House’s original purpose was to “support religious scholars, philosophers, social theorists, and scientists writing on issues affecting contemporary life,” according to their website.
The ICF began doing business as Paragon House after growing the company. In 1996, Paragon House moved from New York City to St. Paul, Minnesota, where it is located today. Dr. Anderson detailed more of the company’s evolution: “ICF closed in 2006, and the company stock was sold. However, the period from 1984–1989 saw significant growth as a result of the foundation support.”
During its time of growth, Paragon House often published over 100 books per year. After ICF’s dissolution, the Professors World Peace Academy became the primary owners of the company, along with a few private investors who bought shares.
Dr. Anderson spoke to the benefits of being a publishing house independent of significant corporate influence. “The advantage of being an independent publisher is that you are able to push the envelope,” he said. “Most non-profit organizations and think-tanks that publish scholarly works are supported by financial interest that also support political parties…Independent publishers are less constrained by [the concerns of third party contributors] and are therefore able to push the envelope on social issues.”
Dr. Anderson recalled his book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0, in which he reimagined the laws of Congress to focus more on the people than on the interests of the political parties’ major contributors. He added, “Most think-tanks would not be able to make such proposals in their books because they tend to support the platforms of these factions.”
Paragon House reflects this freedom in its choice to publish books on the heated topics of religious and social contemporary issues, topics from which other companies often shy away lest the published viewpoints put shareholders or significant contributors on edge.
By choosing to print books of a certain ethical character and quality, Paragon House is addressing concerns relevant to today’s readers. This groundbreaking publisher is pushing the envelope in the publishing industry by providing its readers with the impetus and the tools to start creating the dialogue that it hopes will inspire change in the world.
Responding to the interests and challenges of its readers, Paragon House is working as an independent faction to enlighten its readers by bringing forth intellectual books that give them the knowledge and the power to make a difference in the outcome of these heated and pressing issues.
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Ariel Bronson is a senior at the University of Michigan studying as a dual concentrator in English and Communication Studies. She worked as an editorial intern at Sleeping Bear Press in 2011 and is currently an Online Content Editor at LEAD Magazine on Michigan’s campus. Please contact her with any comments, questions, or criticisms at firstname.lastname@example.org