Readers may already be familiar with Zibby Owens—if not from her podcast Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books, or her own books (which includes a Moms anthology, a memoir titled Bookends, and the picture book Princess Charming), then from her “Top Books” segments on Good Morning America. Owens taps into an audience of women who want to use limited “me time” on books they’ll love. To that end, the newly launched Zibby Books will focus on publishing titles in the categories of women’s fiction, memoir, and commercial fiction. Zibby Books will be the flagship of Zibby Media, which now includes book publishing, Zibby Mag (an online magazine), the Zibby Audio podcast network, a virtual book club and subscription program, as well as a suite of classes, retreats, and events. On February 18, Owens will open her first bookstore, Zibby’s Bookshop, in Santa Monica, Calif.

Zibby Books will release one book per month through the calendar year, and Owens plans to keep to that schedule in the coming years. The first book, released February 7, is Alisha Fernandez Miranda’s memoir My What If Year, about a time when the author and former CEO worked a series of unpaid internships. Zibby Books grew from Owens’s need to understand the publishing process. “When I finished my first book,” she said over coffee in her bookshelf-lined home office, “I was eager to speak with the marketing team, the sales team, to understand all of the pieces that would go into my book’s success. But I was told I couldn’t speak with, for example, the sales reps. And I thought, why? What if there were a publishing company that worked with its authors in complete transparency?”

Thus Zibby Books was born. An important note—one that those familiar with Owens may understand—is that Owens has money of her own and has invested it in her ventures. (She is the daughter of Stephen Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group.) “I won the birth lottery,” Owens said. “But I’m building a business and need to turn a profit. My father gave me a huge gift with no strings so that I could do what I want with my life, and this is what I’ve chosen to do.”

Still, starting any kind of company from scratch has its challenges, especially when one attempts to disrupt the status quo. Owens has learned from some of the smartest publishing people--Anne Messitte, Jeanne Emanuel, Kathleen Harris, Leigh Newman, Steph Opitz, and Maya Shanbhag Lang (the last three left the Zibby Books team in 2022).

Messitte, once head of Vintage and Anchor Books at Random House, is Zibby Books’ publisher. “Anne stepped in on day one and has been instrumental in our decision making, in every acquisition we have made, and our strategic publishing,” Owens said. “She is a superstar, and having her at the helm as publisher is the biggest vote of confidence in Zibby Books there is.” Emanuel, COO, was at Ingram and Candlewick Press, and Kathleen Harris, executive editor of both Zibby Books and Zibby Mag, was formerly managing editor at Real Simple.

Each Monday the entire team gathers around Owens’s dining-room table for a one-hour meeting (a few off-site members join via Zoom), followed by lunch and conversation that covers a range of topics. “Every part of the business I’m building fascinates me,” Owens said.

In March, Zibby Books will release Women Are the Fiercest Creatures by Andrea Dunlop. “I’ve worked with a lot of amazing people in my publishing career,” Dunlop said, “but I think the system itself is pretty broken. Zibby is addressing that.”

Jane Delury, author of the June release Hedge, echoed Dunlop’s feelings. “I was looking for something different after my time in traditional publishing,” Delury said. She referenced the October 2022 Zibby Books Author Retreat, during which the entire publishing process was outlined for 2023’s authors: not only will they work closely with sales reps (Two Rivers is the company’s distributor) but they’ll have Zibby’s community of more than 800 “book ambassadors” to spread the word about their titles. These ambassadors include avid readers, indie booksellers, fellow authors, and anyone who wants to help spread the word about the books.

“We’re doing tons of extra things for our book ambassadors to make them feel like they’re really part of things, from sending out early copies to creating influencer boxes,” Harris said. “I think people are hungry for community and connection after the isolation of Covid, and many have turned to reading. This is a way for readers to find community and feel part of its excitement.”

Something else different about Zibby Books is that it will release its titles simultaneously in hardcover, trade paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats.

“I realize not all of my ideas make sense to my team, at least at first,” Owens said. “But I feel like they all will make sense down the road. That’s my goal here, to try new things, and to make things better, simpler, and more transparent for authors.”

This story has been updated.