By Sidney Williams
As a child, I would always have “books on tape” (yes, actual cassette tapes) in the car for road trips, or just long drives. Because of this, I got used to being able to have access to a story even if I was preoccupied with something other than reading. Of course, I only owned a finite number of books on tape, and beyond that, my family’s car (and later my own car) only had a finite amount of storage space for audiobooks, and what about work? The age of the Walkman ended long before me so I needed something that was portable, compact, and allowed for vast variety. A few years ago, almost all of my favorite content creators on YouTube were being sponsored by Audible, they were literally giving away free audiobooks. With my new free audio library, I was able to keep myself entertained at work and on long drives. This is what really got me into having a collection of audiobooks on my phone, but at the time I had not started working at BookPeople of Moscow, and I really didn’t understand how Amazon (and thus Audible) affected other businesses, especially local ones.
As a side note, if anyone reading is not yet aware of Amazon and its effects I urge you to check out Danny Caine’s How to Resist Amazon and Why it’s a short book (which, ironically, is available on Amazon, but you should really buy it from us of course!) and it is helpful for putting things in perspective, and informing more ethical purchasing.
When I began working at BookPeople, I saw a few posters around the store advertising the service Libro.fm. I paid them no mind at first, but as I learned more about Audible I decided to give LibroFM a go. When you make your account and set up a subscription, you get to choose which partner store to support. From that point on, any purchase you make will have a portion given to the selected bookstore. BookPeople of Moscow is, of course, an available option, but when I started my account I chose to have my portion of the payment distributed across all partner bookstores. I like this option because I can be supporting the Indie book network as a whole with my dollar. Something else that I found Libro.fm beating Audible in (aside from ethicality) is that it offers a 30% discount for all purchases while you have a subscription. So, not only do you get an audiobook credit every month you have a subscription, but if you want to buy a second (or third!) audiobook in that same month, you get 30% off the list price. I believe those are the main subscription points that make Libro unique, but if I've missed anything their website should be able to answer any lingering questions.
However, what has me most impressed with the service is the customer relations. During COVID my available free money took a nosedive and I had to cancel my membership, on the way out I filled out the suggestions form they provide saying that it would make the experience much better if I could search for new books while in the app. A couple months after I cancelled my membership, I got an email (which I’ve included in this article) telling me that my feedback had been incorporated! This was the first time I had ever felt that suggesting something to a company actually changed it, and to top it off, I had gotten an email about it even when I was not subscribed! The best part of all was that the email was not trying to sell me on reinstating my payments, it was simply letting me know that my feedback had been listened to. Having the same quality and quantity of third-party audiobooks at the same subscription cost as Audible, but including a discount on additional purchases, obvious action on feedback, and active support of a local bookstore of your choice makes Libro.fm something that one can feel good about budgeting for every month.
In an age of online shopping and super corporations, it is becoming increasingly important to support local business where possible. Libro.fm is an easy way to help keep independent bookstores afloat while providing an arguably better service than its super corporation competition. I hope that I have managed to make you aware of a service that you will love using as much as I have. Happy listening!
How to Resist Amazon and Why: The Fight for Local Economics, Data Privacy, Fair Labor, Independent Bookstores, and a People-Powered Future! (Real World) (Paperback)
When a company's workers are literally dying on the job, when their business model relies on preying on local businesses and even their own vendors, when their CEO is the richest person in the world while their workers make low wages with impossible quotas... wouldn't you want to resist?