In the changing world of publishing, local man carves niche

Robert Goodman. Photo: Jon Clark
Robert Goodman. Photo: Jon Clark

Bob Goodman finds his place in ‘book packaging,’ literary memoirs

By Arthur Lightbourn

Contributor

Bob Goodman, who has a Ph.D. in colonial American history, always had a hankering to become a publisher. He had a proven talent for research and things technical, but it wasn’t until he had trouble understanding a food label in the late 1980s that he became energized into the publishing business.

“I realized when I was looking at a food label that I had no idea what this stuff was that I was eating and I decided I wanted to find out,” he recalled.

In 1988, he founded Silvercat publishing and became his company’s first client, writing and publishing “A Quick Guide to Food Additives” and the sequel “A Quick Guide to Food Safety.”

That was the pre-digital era when publishing was even more technically labor-intensive than it is today.

“I wanted to learn the publishing business,” he said, “and I figured the best way to do it was to make the mistakes on me. After the second book, I started publishing other people’s books.”

Why the name Silvercat? “I had a silver tabby and he was getting very old at the time. He lost a fight with a car. He was just the sweetest cat, one of those magical cats. I wanted to find some way to make him immortal.”

We interviewed Goodman, 63, in his local home/office.

He is the divorced father of a 22-year-old son who is studying engineering at a community college in Portland, Oregon.

Not a fan of aggressive physical exercising, Goodman prefers to keep in shape “walking a lot.”

When he’s not working or walking, he serves as the current president of the 20-member Torrey Pines (La Jolla) Rotary Club.

His company, Silvercat, which started out strictly as a publishing company, has changed with the times.

It now does “book packaging” for publishers who outsource to Silvercat to convert manuscripts into a ready-to-be-published books, “and sometimes we’ll even handle the printing for them.”

Goodman also helps writers craft their memoirs through his companion company, Silver Threads, launched in 2001. So far, he has published five memoirs and two books about writing memoirs, including “Turning Your Life’s Stories into a Literary Memoir,” which Goodman co-authored with veteran San Diego editor Peggy Lang.

He is also the founder and past president of Publishers and Writers of San Diego, a past board member of the Independent Book Publishers Association, and a founding faculty member of the La Jolla Writers Conference.

Goodman was born in West Orange, N.J., the first-born in a family of three children. His father was a chemist who got in on the ground floor of the plastics industry developing a process to laminate metal film onto Mylar® plastic sheeting, thereby combining the bright colors of metal with the flexibility of the plastic.

Goodman’s father was a non-observant Hungarian Jew and his mother a church-going English Methodist. “Their backgrounds were so different that they had to sort of create new territory for me to grow up in. For example, they couldn’t agree religiously, so I became a Unitarian, which is basically not having any religion at all. It was the only church they could agree on.”

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