Discover more from What To Read If
4 Questions with Libro.FM’s Albee Romero
And, an Independent Bookstore Day Giveaway and Raffle
Libro.FM combines two of my favorite things — audiobooks and independent bookstores. The audiobook company splits its profits with indie bookstores.
So, when I bought a copy of the full-cast recording of The Final Revival of Opal & Nevby Dawnie Walton (I’m halfway through and it’s amazing), some of the funds from my purchase went to my neighborhood bookstore, East City Bookshop.
Libro.FM is pitching in on Independent Bookstore Day, a nationwide party at indie bookstores across the country, this Saturday. This year, there’s a slew of virtual events available to all, while individual book shops are celebrating with sales, special merchandise and more. My friend Destinee is moderating two romance panels as part of the festivities — one with Georgia Clark, Talia Hibbert and Thien-Kim Lam at 3 PM EST and a second with Sally Thorne and the writing duo Christina Lauren at 6 PM EST. The authors and Destinee are brilliant and funny, so they should be a great time.
I’m celebrating Independent Bookstore Day too! I’ll be raffling off a $25 gift certificate to the indie book shop of the winner’s choice. To enter, make sure you’re a subscriber to this newsletter and fill out this survey. It’s a quick questionnaire designed to help me better understand who reads What To Read If so that I can better tailor my recommendations.
Libro.FM is giving away an audiobook to everyone who spends $15 at an indie this weekend. Hang on to your receipt and check out the details here. You can see the free book options below. I’m leaning towards getting You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey, but it’s a tough choice.
Albee Romero, Libro.FM’s director of publicity, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the company and its support of independent bookstores via email.
Can you tell us a little about Libro.FM's founding and mission?
Libro.fm began as a conversation over beers at a local bookstore in Seattle (Third Place Books), and since then we’ve grown our community to include 8,000+ booksellers from over 1,400 bookstores, and listeners from all over the world.
Libro.fm is privately owned and operated, much like our bookstore partners. As a Social Purpose Corporation, our mission is to use technology to increase access to books while supporting independent bookstores and serving the needs of our customers around the world. Libro.fm readers love their local bookstores for their community, curation, and culture, and we strive to provide that same experience through Libro.fm.
What does it mean to be a Social Purpose Corporation?
We officially became a Social Purpose Corporation (SPC) in 2020. It aligns with our mission to get more people reading and listening to books, and to do so through local bookstores. The single most significant difference between a normal Corporation and a Social Purpose Corporation is that an SPC can legally pursue social goals, even if this means less profit returns for shareholders.
Why are independent bookstores so important to you?
Independent bookstores are amazing at curation and community. Real bookstores give recommendations that you can't get from algorithms. Bookstores are the heart and soul of the community—they host author events, have creative children's sections, and are places to grab a beer or coffee.
Whether you are paying for monthly membership, giving an audiobook gift to a friend, or buying audiobooks for your organization, Libro.fm splits the profit from your purchases with your local bookstore.
I understand Libro.FM saw explosive growth over the past year. What do you attribute that to?
Even before COVID, audiobooks were the fastest growing category in publishing, with more people than ever listening to audiobooks while doing activities that aren’t possible while reading a print book—like household chores, commuting, and exercising. Once the pandemic struck, many expressed that it was harder to focus on print books and turned to audio for an escape.
Last year also was a tough year for independent bookstores. Reports are that overall sales were down 28% in 2020 due to the pandemic. We were heartened by how many people showed up to support local bookstores with their audiobook purchases and saw a 202% increase in new monthly members. Plus, bookstores put a lot of work into online efforts and many decided to offer audiobooks for the first time. The number of bookstore partners we work with grew 48%, and we increased the amount paid to local bookstores by 398%.
If you’re looking to support your neighborhood bookstore — and get a free book from Libro.FM — this weekend, but aren’t sure what to buy, let me know! I’ll come up with a personalized recommendation for you. Respond to this email, hit me up on Twitter or leave a comment.
And please remember to fill out this survey for a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to the bookstore of your choice.
What to Read If is a free weekly book recommendation newsletter. Need a rec? Want to gush about a book? Reply to this email, leave a comment or find me on Twitter @elizabethheld.
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