Regional History Project
Sandra Kay Martz : Papier-Mache Press & the gentle art of consciousness raising 1984-1999
- Author(s): Martz, Sandra
- Reti, Irene
- et al.
Following in the footsteps of the second wave feminist publishers of the 1970s, Sandra Kay Martz founded Papier-Mache Press in 1984. Papier-Mache Press was known for publishing accessible books which, "presented important social issues through enduring works of beauty, grace, and strength," and "created a bridge of understanding between the mainstream audience and those who might not otherwise be heard." This accessibility, combined with hard work, and savvy marketing and business sense, catapulted Papier-Mache to remarkable financial success and visibility. Of the 60,000 book titles published in the United States each year, less than one percent sell over 100,000 copies. Over 1.6 million copies of the anthology When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple were sold in bookstores and gift stores across the United States. This groundbreaking collection was one of the first non-clinical and positive books on women and aging, and was written by older women themselves. It challenged stereotypes and confronted the invisibility of older women in America. Several years later, another book in Martz's anthology series entitled I Am Becoming the Woman I've Wanted won the 1995 American Book Award. By 1998, Papier-Mache Press had published over sixty titles.
In this oral history Martz discussed the successes of Papier-Mache Press, as well as the enormous changes in the book industry which took place in the late 1990s. She credited feminist culture and politics with her success, and discussed her collegial relationships with other feminist publishers in the United States and Canada, many of whom were her inspiration. She provided an astute assessment of the future of feminist and independent publishing, and discussed the implications of the changes in book publishing in the 1990s for literacy and the exchange of ideas in a free society.
Papier-Mache Press is one of three presses archived at UC Santa Cruz's University Library, as part of the UC/Stanford US History and Women's Studies Consortium California Feminist Presses Project. The project is designed to preserve the output as well as the history of feminist presses in California. The other two presses collected are Shameless Hussy Press and HerBooks.