In the city where I live, two independent bookstores have announced plans to close their doors within the next year. One is a purveyor of science fiction and fantasy and the other almost exclusively carries books published by academic presses. Each is unique. Both have served their communities for over forty years.
Yet, they cannot compete with Amazon which has cornered the market by selling print books at artificially deflated prices. They also dominate in digital sales through Kindle their ebook platform and Audible their audiobook platform.
Upon hearing about the intended closure of University Press Books, I became a friend of the bookstore. I felt the donation was necessary to save the store I love because despite my affinity for books and bookstores, I primarily purchased audiobooks from Audible. I was part of the problem. I felt guilty.
That is until I heard about Libro.fm, an audiobook service that directly supports an independent bookstore of your choice. It gets even better. Unlike Audible, the audiobooks from Libro.fm are DRM-free. If you're not familiar with Digital Rights Management (DRM), it's essentially used for copyright protection and prevents people from illegally sharing files.
What this means is instead of the standard .mp3 file format, Audible uses .aax, a DRM protected format. While you own the audiobooks you buy from Audible, their DRM protection only lets you listen to the files with select apps and devices that support the .aax format.
Most third party apps, like VLC and Smart Audiobook Player which have finer control over playback speed, are not supported. If you're using an iPhone unfortunately you're limited to using iTunes, which doesn't offer any control over playback speed. In this case, DRM may not be a deal breaker.
Regardless, the hook for me is the ability to support my local indie bookstore. It's my way of giving back and letting the bookstore know I appreciate their presence in my community. The fact that their audiobooks are DRM-free, is simply icing on the cake. For a full list of features Libro.fm offers and how they compare to Audible, check out the list below.
Libro.fm vs. Audible