If you’re a hearing person with access to the internet, you’ve probably at least thought about listening to a digital audiobook. Maybe you’re a library-loving Millennial who knows that Overdrive’s Libby app is dream. Maybe you’ve heard a podcast ad encouraging you to get hooked on Audible. Maybe you’ve browsed Paste’s own enthusiastic audiobook coverage. And if the latter is true, then you’ve read about our love for Libro.fm.
Launched in 2016, the Seattle-based digital platform allows you to purchase DRM-free audiobooks and support independent bookstores in the process. Libro.fm offers registered users à la carte access to a vast library of full-price digital audiobooks, as well as a $14.99/month membership package that includes one title credit each month and a 30% discount on any titles you might want to purchase thereafter. The platform also connects its users to brick-and-mortar bookstores in their local communities, sourcing recommendations from individual booksellers and sharing proceeds from every title purchased with the indie bookstore of the user’s choice.
As Libro.fm’s website notes, shopping locally not only sees communities reaping 25% more money than when people shop at national chains, it also reinvests more tax dollars in that same community. This is a great way to support the indie bookstore near you, but it’s also an excellent way to connect with a community you might want to support from afar. (Much love to Wind City Books!)
Need an incentive to try it out? Libro.fm has an #AudiobookSwitch program, offering listeners who want to make the leap from Amazon to indies two bonus credits for their first month with Libro.fm (in addition to the one automatically included). Once you become a member, you have additional opportunities to earn free credits through the service’s referral program, which lets you give a friend a free month of membership and gives you a free credit after they pay for their first month following the free trial. Alternatively, you can spread the Libro.fm love by gifting individual titles to friends near and far; just purchase the title through your own account, no membership required, and a universally accessible, DRM-free link will be emailed to them.
If you want to try Libro.fm before making the commitment, now is the perfect time. Saturday, April 27, is the fifth annual Independent Bookstore Day, and Libro.fm is partnering with indie bookstores to celebrate. You can set up a free account—no credit card information required—and Libro.fm will have five audiobooks available to download for free all day Saturday (including an Independent Bookstore Day Exclusive short story by Liane Moriarty).
Check out the Independent Bookstore Day audiobook titles available for free at Libro.fm below, and we hope you’ll visit your local indie—virtually or in person—this Saturday!
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Run time: 39 minutes
The synopsis is simple: “When a few new moms come together to form a Mothers’ Group, they discover one of the mothers seems a bit more nervous than the rest.” Knowing the author is Liane Moriarty, writer of Big Little Lies and Australian queen of domestic tension, however, makes the nerves take on a new light. The second season of Big Little Lies won’t be hitting HBO until June, so get your Moriarty fix now.
Narrator: William H. McRaven
Run time: 1 hour and 53 minutes
This brief expansion of Admiral McRaven’s viral University of Texas at Austin commencement address builds on the speech’s 10 principles. In Make Your Bed, McRaven recounts tales from his life and military service that illustrate the value of “tough decisions [made] with determination, compassion, honor, and courage.” While it’s the content more readers will be interested in than the reading experience, listening to this speech-turned-book on audio offers an especially Inception-like take that many listeners will love.
Narrator: Peter Forbes
Run time: 12 hours and 20 minutes
The first book in Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy series boasts a gripping premise: When a grisly murder occurs on the Isle of Lewis that bears similarities to a brutal killing on the mainland, Edinburgh detective and native islander Fin Macleod is dispatched to the Outer Hebrides to investigate, embarking at the same time on a voyage into his own troubled past. That synopsis paired with narrator Peter Forbes’ exhilarating Scottish brogue was all it took to move this book to the top of our TBL list.
Narrator: Oliver Wyman
Run time: 5 hours and 17 minutes
A prequel narrative adventure to the horror game of the same name, Hello Neighbor: Missing Pieces is a spooky sleuth story the whole family can enjoy. Intrigued? Here’s the synopsis: Nicky Roth has always been a lonely kid. But that all changes when he and his family move to Raven Brooks and meet their eccentric neighbors, the Petersons…
Run time: 4 hours and 25 minutes
Where the Crawdads Sing. Black Leopard, Red Wolf. There There. Washington Black. Dreyer’s English. The Unwinding of the Miracle. Daisy Jones & The Six. The Phantom Tollbooth (as read by Rainn Wilson). More than half of the titles included in this audio sampler either have been or will be included in one of our “best of 2019” audiobook roundups, so we are loving Libro.fm’s selections! You can’t go wrong with any of these samples.
Alexis Gunderson is a TV critic and audiobibliophile. She can be found @AlexisKG.