By Amy Hoffman, Editor in chief, Women's Review of Books for WOMEN = BOOKS
Posted on September 23, 2013
Back in 2010, Women’s Review of Books (WRB) Contributing Editor Martha Nichols took me out to lunch to share with me a great idea that she had: what WRB needed, she said to me over our salads, was a blog. Martha is an early adopter; I, to put it mildly, am not. The word itself sounded ugly to me: blog, bleh. Blogs were less prevalent than they are now; I didn’t see why we needed one, and it seemed like a lot of work, especially since I felt that I was already running as fast as I could to stay in the same place (as the Red Queen tells Alice).
But Martha was persuasive—and not only that, she volunteered to curate and edit it herself. All I would need to do, she said, was to provide her with the names of likely bloggers from among our reviewers, book authors, and friends. That was easy: one thing we have in abundance at WRB is a network of great writers and creative thinkers. In the blog, they would write about ideas that didn’t quite fit into their WRB reviews; about personal experiences that their books and articles raised; about publishing and literary issues of interest to feminists. The blog, Martha said, which she named WOMEN=BOOKS, would improve our outreach to younger readers and create buzz about our publication. And it worked—until Martha, who has a busy life as a writer, teacher, and parent, had to bow out of the coordinator role. WOMEN=BOOKS was suspended.
Well, Women’s Review of Books has a good record with suspensions. We suspended publication in 2005 because of financial problems, and to be honest, I didn’t expect us ever to come back—but with the support of our parent organization, Wellesley Centers for Women, we found a publishing partner, Old City Publishing. We restructured and re-launched in January 2006 and have been going strong ever since. So, when we suspended the blog, I knew not to feel hopeless.
As we revive WOMEN=BOOKS, with me as curator and coordinator (and Martha still around to advise), our purpose is to create a space for reviewers, book authors, and readers to share experiences, full- and half-baked theories, musings, images, information, updates, and other content that will supplement the print edition of Women’s Review of Books. The WRB community is ideal for such exchanges.
We are also reactivating our Facebook page and Twitter feed, to inform friends and fans when new issues come out, when we have new blog posts, and when we have news to share. Our goal is to create a visible presence for Women’s Review of Books on the Internet and to expand our forum of serious, informed discussion of new writing by and about women.
We have an ulterior motive, and I won’t make a secret of it. We’re hoping that all of you blog readers, Facebook fans, and Twitter followers will subscribe to our print edition, if you haven’t already, for the total Women’s Review of Books experience. As interesting and thought-provoking and fun as WOMEN=BOOKS will be, our writers’ ideas and insights are most fully developed in the long-form reviews in Women’s Review of Books, and the journal is where you will learn about the latest developments in women’s studies research and women’s literature.
To create a truly useful exchange of ideas, as well as to survive financially, we must attract additional WRB subscribers and advertisers. So, subscribe, comment—definitely comment!—link, crosspost, tweet, and give gift subscriptions to Mom (mine loves hers—and she would let me know if she didn’t) and your local librarian. Don’t do this to be generous to an institution that’s important to you—although please do remember that our feminist institutions need your energy, and your checks too—do it because WRB enriches your life.
Amy Hoffman is editor in chief of Women's Review of Books.