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Social Purpose Annual Report


2021

Our vision is to grow an audience of book-lovers, in partnership with local booksellers, through customer-first technology.


After a tumultuous pandemic year prior, 2021 was a time of healing, growing, and learning how to thrive in our “new normal.” Our aim was to provide resources for our community through technological advancements, useful content, and new partnerships. Through these resources, we sought to strengthen how we show up for our listeners, marginalized voices, bookstores, businesses, and partners.

But we would be remiss to not acknowledge who made all of this possible: you. Through your audiobook purchases and word-of-mouth advocacy, we were able to enact these improvements and outcomes. When more people choose Libro.fm, more bookstores and communities near and far benefit.

Here are a few stand-outs from the year:

Crying in H Mart

Crying in H Mart was the #1 bestselling audiobook for all of 2021. See our top 10 list.

20%

The percent increase in people who purchased audiobooks through their local bookstore.

6
years

Longest amount of time someone has been an active member.

470

Most audiobooks purchased through a bookstore by a single listener.

397

Number of messages in the #Pets-of-libro Slack channel.

Portland

Listeners located in Washington DC, Portland, and Chicago made the biggest impact at their local bookstores this year.

20%

Increase in what we paid to local bookstores from 2020.

287

The number of new partner bookstores that joined Libro.fm, bringing our total to 1,608.

1

Listeners


We are accountable for improving the digital experience for every type of listener, whether they are interacting with our technology or connecting with our people-driven support team.

Libro.fm listener Kerry Kingston, whose favorite audiobook of 2021 was Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Customer Success

The voice of the customer is our guiding principle. One of the biggest updates of 2021 was the launch of our Help Center; this allowed self-service for faster support resolution times, as well as transparency and visibility to how we work and how we support bookstores. By streamlining our guides, we increased ease of use for our listener base.

New dark mode enhancement in our apps

Accessibility

Audiobooks are a valuable resource for the visually impaired, the neurodiverse, and for people with disabilities. It is imperative that our technology—from our website to our app—allows for all our listeners to easily browse, download, and access their audiobooks. Here are some updates we made in our ongoing efforts to boost accessibility:

  • Dark mode in our iOS and Android apps
  • Creation of an accessible alternative to our Bookstore Finder map
  • Increased usage of alt text on our website, blog, and social media
  • Continued work with our accessibility consultant Robert Kingett and the Canadian Council of the Blind

Learn more about how we design our tech to be accessible

2

Marginalized Voices


We actively advocate for voices that should be heard, work to create an inclusive environment, and seek to understand how we can collaborate with each other.

Holidays, History, & Heritage Months

If the year 2020 was the year of learning, 2021 was the year of accountability. With holidays, history, and heritage months as our guide, we continued to spotlight marginalized voices through blog content, landing pages, playlists, and author and narrator-driven content.

Bookstore Map

Bookstore Finder

To help connect readers with bookstores owned by specific communities, we updated our bookseller tools so that partners could share identity-based ownership. Using this data, we launched a new filtering system for our Bookstore Finder map.

We also continued to use our platform to uplift all bookstores (beyond our partner stores) that are owned by BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ booksellers.

New directories added in 2021:

AAPI-Owned Disabled-Owned Queer-Owned

Continually updated:

Black-Owned Indigenous-Owned Latinx-Owned

3

Bookstores


Supporting our local bookstores and communities is the common mission that brings us all together.

Bookstore Map

Growth & Onboarding Process

Each time a partner bookstore sells an audiobook or membership, we split the profits. In 2021, we welcomed 287 more bookstores to our community, bringing our partner total to 1,608—and with new bookstores come new opportunities to connect and onboard smoothly. In 2021, we:

  • Launched our Bookseller 101 Program, a dedicated training resource for store owners and their staff to maximize their effectiveness
  • Built a dedicated landing page for bookstore sign-up to make becoming a partner even easier
  • Introduced www.libro.fm/picks to prominently feature bookseller picks, allowing listeners to discover bookstore-approved audiobooks across genres
  • Enhanced the options for bookstore customization to showcase each store’s unique curation on our website and in-app, including curated playlists and audiobook picks

Bookstore-Focused Campaigns

Independent Bookstore Day

As a thank-you for shopping at indie bookstores on the annual holiday, we gifted a free audiobook to anyone who spent at least $15 at their store. As a result, 5,311 shoppers spent $261,783 at 1,038 independent bookstores.

Bookstore-Focused Campaigns

Thanks for Giving

To encourage shopping small during the biggest retail weekend of the year, readers were rewarded with a free audiobook when they spent $15 or more at an independent bookstore. Nearly 3,200 bookstores were supported, and $161,325 was spent at local bookstores.

4

Libro.fm for Business


In 2021, we launched Libro.fm for Business: a social-good alternative to Amazon’s now-defunct Audible for Business, allowing companies to invest in professional and personal development of their employees while financially supporting a local bookstore. This program not only provides a tremendous value to organizations through offering a curated hub of audiobooks, but also provides significant revenue to selected bookstores.

Some of the companies we work with:

Biogen
Microsoft
Deloitte
Mailchimp
HubSpot
LinkedIn
Equipment Share
Mark Pearson

“It isn’t uncommon for bookstores in the United States to have a net income of only $10,000. A single company signing up with Libro.fm can boost the bottom line and help a local bookstore thrive.”


Mark Pearson / Co-founder and CEO of Libro.fm
Brookline Booksmith

Success Story

Brookline Booksmith & Biogen team up

“We need large companies like Biogen, and we also need small businesses like Brookline Booksmith (in Brookline, MA) and our fellow independent bookstores in this area. And not just bookstores either—local, small businesses are so important for all communities, so this kind of program and this kind of support means a lot.”

Read more

5

Partnerships


We believe the company we keep—and support—says a great deal about us. We’re proud to have partnered with organizations, events, initiatives, and more in 2021. Some highlights include:

Margins Bookstore Month logo

Margins Bookstore Month

Margins Bookstores Month launched in October and celebrates BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, Disabled, and Neurodiverse owned/managed bookstores. We joined as an inaugural sponsor and amplified the month through content on our blog, email, and social channels, as well as provided prizes for award winners and bookstore raffles.

Black Readers Conference logo

Black Readers Conference

The mission of the Black Readers Conference is to empower and convene a community of Black Readers through various avenues of literature, social events and community service. We were honored to sponsor the 2021 conference with complimentary audiobooks for speakers, panelists, and VIPs, and by spotlighting a curated playlist.

Lit & Luz logo

Lit & Luz

The Lit & Luz Festival is a one-of-a-kind series of events featuring renowned authors, visual artists, and musicians from Chicago and Mexico. To support this festival in 2021, we created a branded playlist, provided complimentary audiobooks for participants, audiobook memberships for giveaways, and a unique promo code for attendees.

Well-Read Black Girl Festival logo

Well-Read Black Girl Festival

Well-Read Black Girl began as an intimate book club in 2015, with a simple goal: Black women would come together to discuss one book a month and hopefully get a chance to ask the authors of the books themselves a few questions. Now a full-fledged festival, we supported with a playlist, as well as audiobooks for speakers, panelists, and VIPs.

We Need Diverse Books logo

We Need Diverse Books

To spread some bookstore magic for the holidays, we worked with bestselling author and illustrator Ann Shen to create a limited edition puzzle with custom artwork. This was sold as part of a bundle benefitting We Need Diverse Books, a 501(c)(3) non-profit and a grassroots organization that advocates for literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.

Binc logo

Binc

The Book Industry Charitable Foundation (or Binc) is an incredible organization which helps bookstore owners—and booksellers—with unforeseen emergency financial needs. To help boost year-end donations, we provided complimentary gift memberships for donors.

Collage of team members

The Libro.fm Team

Get to know us on a first-name basis because, for all who are a part of the Libro.fm story, we promise to do the same. You can also meet our extended team—the thousands of booksellers who work with us each day—by visiting your local bookstore.

Learn more about the team

Our Values
2021 Report Card

In 2021, our team defined the values that guide us as an organization. At the end of the year, we conducted an internal survey to gauge our progress, and find out where we need to improve.

B+

We keep it balanced

We work tirelessly towards our vision while striving to balance fun.

While our team excelled in the “working tirelessly” aspect of the value, we often fell short of taking enough time away from our computers. With big plans to have fun together as a company, we scheduled our first all—company meet-up for October 2020—however, we canceled it due to Covid-19 concerns. Believe it or not, the majority of our company still has yet to meet one another face-to-face.

A

Purpose drives us

Supporting our local bookstores and economies is the common mission that brings our team together.

Everyone at Libro.fm is 100% committed to our purpose, and it informs how we move forward. One team member remarked that they “love that we're always trying to make big business decisions with bookstores in mind.”

A-

We support all voices

We actively seek to understand how we can collaborate with each other, advocate for underrepresented voices, and create an inclusive environment.

Throughout the year we made an effort to support all voices, but there is always room to do more—both inside and outside of the company. While one team member said that our “DEI efforts feel far more genuine and invested than any other companies I've worked for,” others shared that “sometimes in-house debates on DEI-related topics do not feel balanced or like everyone's voice has the same weight” and that “the same people talk at meetings, and the meetings do not encourage all folks to speak up.”

A-

We are humans, not bots

We are accountable for ensuring the customer knows we are listening and they are connecting with real people at Libro.fm.

We personally interacted with thousands of our customers this year via support tickets. The interactions brought us joy (the child who develops a love for books through audiobooks!) and made us laugh out loud (the literary cat who purchased an audiobook!). We go above and beyond to provide the great customer service you expect when shopping at a brick-and-mortar bookshop. We also listen—every piece of customer feedback is reviewed and organized into plans for new features.

B

We seek to grow

We are committed to learning; growth and evolution are challenging but critical to our success and development.

Our goal was to grow and learn outside our company, but we were often too busy with day-to-day tasks to set aside time to take a class or read an article on an unfamiliar topic. As one team member wrote, “I think we definitely value this as a company, but one challenge is that there's so much to do each day that there sometimes isn't time to reflect and spend dedicated time on growing and evolving.”

A-

We make it right

Integrity drives us to do the right thing; every day, we work to earn the trust of our booksellers, customers, and each other.

Booksellers trust us with their customers, and they in turn trust us to deliver a great audiobook browsing and listening experience. While we had a few minor technical hiccups and challenges with harmful or poorly-produced audiobooks on our platform, we delivered on our promise to make things right to those who count on us.

So where does this leave us?


After a year dedicated to improving our tech, honing in on our mission, and growing our team, we are readying ourselves to share Libro.fm with the world. Supporting small businesses takes big voices, and we will continue to advocate for local bookstores in 2022 and beyond.