by Anneli Rufus
Berkeley-based publishing house Stone Bridge Press, which specializes in books about Japan and Asian culture, is about to be locally owned and independent again as Peter Goodman, who founded SBP in 1989 and ran it independently until selling the company in 2005, has reacquired 100 percent of its shares from its Japanese owner.
Five years ago, Goodman sold SBP to the Japanese book distributor Yohan, Inc., which purchased then-struggling Cody’s Books the following year but declared bankruptcy in 2007 was unable to prevent Cody's 2008 demise.
“Money that had been planned for Stone Bridge operations instead got diverted to Cody’s,” Goodman explains, “leaving Stone Bridge with a shortfall just when it was expanding production to grow."
Ownership of SBP passed to IBC, formerly a Yohan subsidiary, just prior to Yohan’s declaration of bankruptcy. Goodman remained as an executive at SBP and will continue to lead the company as publisher and editor-in-chief.
Goodman is taking his company back at a time when the publishing industry is in flux — some say in freefall.
“Obviously I was concerned about the company’s future. I started Stone Bridge. These authors are like family; many are my friends; their books are of great value to them personally and to the people who depend on them for information and entertainment. In the end, the best strategy was for me to step in and resume ownership.”
He plans to explore books in different themes, particularly fiction and inspirational prose, and to branch out beyond Japan and Asia. “A lot of the sensibilities and creative possibilities that drew me to Japan 30 years ago are now visible throughout world cultures,” he says. “It’s a good time for exploring and stretching concepts of art and taste. ... The Japanese owners at IBC have always been generous in spirit, and they did the best they could in very tough circumstances. I’m grateful that they agreed to allow the company to pass back to me and remain intact.” — Anneli Rufus