For several years, readers of the Times have known the real story of how Rex Parker got his crossword puzzle business off the ground. It is a great story of perseverance and determination. But it also tells how he made a mistake that cost him his own business. Mr. Parker was known as a difficult and perfectionist designer of crosswords. He was good at what he did, but he wanted to do even more.
So he bought a subscription to the Nytimes, a popular periodical that features celebrity interviews. He expected to draw customers from the New York Times crossword section. Instead, he found that his business was suffering as a result of people who misread the puzzle.
He had hired two new writers, one from the Times and one from WordPress, a blogging tool. They were not sure what to do about the crossword ads in the paper. One of them suggested that they use a paid service. The Nytimes, of course, endorsed that idea _ it gave them more exposure. WordPress was not interested in providing advertisers with backlinks, so they declined his offer.
The writer from the Times, Mark Twain, actually visited the store that he had advertised in the paper. He was impressed. He wrote: "The greatest attraction at Neider's is the crossword puzzles. Those puzzles are always popular _ especially for those who have an account there." He knew something was wrong.
Parker soon learned that the company was aware of his poor sales. So he began to work on the problem by himself. It didn't take long for him to realize that he had made a mistake. Rexy had signed a non_disclosure agreement. She would not allow him to mention the company again.
It was too late for the ad to be displayed for the rest of the week. But he noticed that his sales had picked up. He wrote in his next article: "So here I am, having been for three weeks in business, and am finding that the crossword puzzle business is going rather well." He even offered a free newsletter in exchange for the crossword results. But he got no replies.
Soon after that, he began to wonder what had gone wrong. He realized that the people at Times Square could not understand him and did not care. He decided to leave. He signed a non_disclosure agreement with another company and closed his business.
He never dreamed that his small experiment with word games would change everything. The fact that he got so much publicity and became a household name convinced millions of people that crossword puzzles really could belong in the modern world. And now anyone can play them from home. Their success has inspired books, TV shows, and entire industries. So the next time you play a crossword puzzle, remember Mr Parker _ and try to win!
When he sold Nytimes, Parker was following in the footsteps of many others. Many of these entrepreneurs started out in their own small businesses. One of these was a man called Richard Mellon Scripps. He'd worked in the engineering department of the U.S. military and created a machine that allowed people to type words into the search bar and receive results. Eventually he opened an ad agency and specialized in selling newspapers. His first client was an insurance company.
According to some reports, Parker actually got the idea for word search puzzles from a chemist. A chemist had created a device to measure the strength of various acids. One of the chemicals contained an element called "odontalgia" which when mixed with water turned into "crossword letters". This was a wonderful idea, as his was a popular theme.
So Parker took this information and made it into a business. He would visit libraries, post offices, post points, and hotels to find letters that needed to be crosswords and put together a puzzle. The first Nytimes Crossword was in fact created in a library. Parker received congratulations from the head of the librarian and it became a bestseller. The book was later made into a TV series and several movies were produced.
Today, the Nytimes brand of products and services is well known and well loved by numerous corporations and organizations. In fact, the United States Post Office sells a line of products, including a children's book and a puzzle book, as part of a bundle of products to help teachers teach reading to children with a special needs curriculum. The official website for the company even has a store. The business is also extremely competitive and has won several Editor's Choice Awards. All in all, the business seems to be doing well despite the many rumors that have circulated in recent months.
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