A readers' community for those who love women's words. - Glenda Martin (left) and Mollie Hoben, co-founders of the Minnesota Womens Press, file photo, circa 1985
by Mollie Hoben and Glenda Martin
Thirty-four years ago we pondered, "What would news look like through women's eyes?" The only way to find out, we decided, was to start our own newspaper. So we did, despite the warnings of everyone with whom we spoke in the publishing industry that the idea would never work.
With a band of enthusiastic and talented women, we founded a publishing company, Minnesota Women's Press, Inc., and a year later, the first issue of the biweekly Minnesota Women's Press (MWP) newspaper appeared on the streets.
MWP was and is a mission-driven company, with a goal of promoting women's words and stories in ways that create community and encourage change.
In the early years it seemed that maybe the nay-sayers had been right, as we struggled financially. We needed ways to increase our cash flow, and Glenda suggested that she would offer book groups that focused on women's literature; interested readers would pay to join the groups.
She was right about the potential interest. The first few groups grew to be many. Out of the book-focused energy that swirled around the office grew a new area of business for MWP, the Books division. This led to a new magazine, BookWomen, and to adventures such as reading retreats and book-tied travel.
The tagline of BookWomen is "A readers' community for those who love women's words." The bi-monthly magazine has subscribers from around the country, a small but loyal band of readers. Reading retreats and trips are more extensive immersions in the pleasures of exploring books written by women.
As the Books division grew, we passed the leadership of the newspaper on to Kathy Magnuson and Norma Smith Olson, who led the transition to a monthly magazine and whose dedication and hard work have solidified the Minnesota Women's Press as an important and respected resource.
As Norma and Kathy describe on page 4, they now, in turn, are handing the torch to a new leadership team. And we, Mollie and Glenda, are in the process of creating a new business, BookWomen LLC, to continue what we've been doing for the last 22 years - publishing BookWomen, facilitating book groups and offering book-tied adventures.
Beginning with the new year, we'll operate separately from the Minnesota Women's Press, but along with the new leaders at MWP, will continue to honor the words and stories of women.