A Q&A With Mark Pearson, Libro.fm CEO and Co-founder

We are excited to share that Libro.fm is now international, meaning readers can support bookshops around the globe with their audiobook purchases!

Libro.fm partner bookshops as of July, 2023

We asked Mark Pearson, our CEO and co-founder, a few questions about the expansion to help readers everywhere better understand why Libro.fm, why now, and why shopping local is important.

Q: How did Libro.fm begin? 

Libro.fm began as a conversation among friends at a local bookshop (Third Place Books in Seattle, Washington) about the growth in audiobooks and the fact that there was no way for bookshops to participate. I was a publisher in the early 2010s and knew bookshops needed a solution to compete with Amazon’s Audible

We founded Libro.fm in 2014, and spent nearly two years listening to bookshop owners and managers while we collected tens of thousands of audiobooks from publishers and built our platform and iOS and Android apps. We wanted our initial offering to be a great experience for listeners and partners from start to finish. 

Today, we partner with more than 14,000 booksellers at more than 2,200 bookshops. 

Listeners can support the bookshop of their choosing with audiobook memberships (one audiobook credit per month and 30% off additional purchases), via individual à la carte purchases, and with credit bundle purchases for themselves or others. 

Q: Why are you expanding globally? 

The name “libro” of course means “book” in many languages. We’ve had our sights set on a global platform since we started the company in 2014 and have had customers in dozens of countries for many years now. In 2022, more than 29% of new visitors to Libro.fm were outside the U.S., up from 21% in 2021. And that’s despite the fact our membership model has been limited to the U.S. and Canada and that we’ve only sold audiobooks in USD. We’ve now added CAD, GBP, EUR, AUD, and NZD.

Our highest priority is making sure that Libro.fm is an audiobook service that booksellers will be proud to promote to their customers. We’ve been working for many years to get the tech in place for international bookshops to sell audiobooks in an inviting way that mirrors an in-shop experience. 

Q: Why does it make sense for local bookshops to partner with Libro.fm? 

We see ourselves as a technology partner to local bookshops and this mission guides us in all that we do. As a small, employee-owned, Social Purpose Corporation, with no investors to report to, we have been able to build Libro.fm with the long-term interest of booksellers in mind. This has meant running the company at break-even levels in order to invest in building a listening experience booksellers are proud to promote to their customers. 

Being a Social Purpose Corporation and independently-owned company also gives us freedom to put energy into activism and social good, highlight movements we believe in, and amplify historically excluded voices. Our bookselling partners are passionate about curating from our diverse catalog of 400,000 audiobooks through playlists and bookseller recommendations. In turn, we actively seek to feature audiobooks by authors of color, disabled authors, and LGBTQIA+ authors through our website, app, and marketing communications.

Also, audiobooks play an important role in making reading more widely available, so accessibility is a top priority for us. 

We want to help all bookshops thrive, and new shops to open, and have seen the difference extra income from Libro.fm audiobook purchases can make. We are proud to put our purpose ahead of profits, and look forward to continuing to do so globally. 

And some basics, in case you are wondering: 

What is Libro.fm? 

We are an audiobook retailer and listening app that shares profits with local bookshops.  

Where is Libro.fm available? 

Readers around the globe are able to support their local bookshops through Libro.fm audiobook purchases, including monthly memberships, in six currencies: USD, CAD, GBP, EUR, AUD, and NZD.

How does it work? 

  1. Customers choose one of 2,200+ bookshops to support with their audiobook purchases
  2. Customers can start monthly memberships, purchase individual audiobooks and credit bundles, and/or gift credits and individual audiobooks.
  3. When a customer makes a purchase, or pays their monthly membership fee, Libro.fm shares profits with their bookshop of choice.
  4. Customers listen to their audiobooks via the free iOS or Android app. Since downloads are DRM-free, they can also download and listen on other devices. 

How do monthly memberships work? 

  • Memberships include one audiobook credit per month, which can be used on the customer’s choice of audiobooks.
  • Members also receive a 30% discount when buying audiobooks à la carte. 
  • Memberships can be put on hold or canceled anytime. Customers keep their audiobooks and unused credits.

What sets Libro.fm apart from other audiobook platforms? 

As a small, employee-owned company (with just 18 employees, compared to Audible’s 1,000+), there is no way we would have hit this milestone without your support over the years. Thank you!

We will keep fighting for independent bookshops, doing our part to make reading more accessible, and empowering readers like you to support their local bookshops—and now across the globe.

Is your bookshop not yet on Libro.fm?

They can learn more on our sign up page.

Where is Libro.fm?

Check out our updated map!

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