Fable, the mobile platform for online book clubs launched in early 2021, has announced $20 million in Series A funding. The new round of financing, led by Tiger Global, follows an initial seed round of $7.25 million. The additional money will be used to expand operations. Currently, the platform is focused on enabling readers to join online reading cubs moderated by experts, authors, and influencers, or to start their own clubs. The platform, accessible on both iOS and Android, runs a proprietary e-book store where 20% of the net proceeds from every book purchased is donated to the World Literacy Foundation.
“We’ve come a long way,” said Padmasree Warrior, CEO of Fable, noting that the company now employs 25 people and that the platform has seen the establishment of more than 300 public book clubs. Several clubs are attracting growing audiences. The largest is the Spicy Romance Book Club, which has 11,192 members. It is run by Ayman Chaudhary, a 21-year-old social media influencer from Chicago with more than 650,000 TikTok followers and accumulated 1.4 billion views for her videos. The Chamber of Secrets Book Club, run by Cameron Capello (440,000 TikTok followers), is second in the number of total members, with 4.000. The site regularly offers reading guides to books that are seeing a surge in popularity due to social media activity, such as the work of Colleen Hoover whose book sales soared last year with the help of TikTok where readers expressed their enthusiasm for her novels.
While Fable’s core services are free, a $69 premium annual subscription gives users access to a broader selection of clubs and allows members to host larger clubs. Among these is LaVar Burton’s Book Club, which has nearly 650 members and has featured discussions with A-list authors, including Jesmyn Ward. Another new club is by actor Sean Astin, who starred in The Lord of the Rings films as Samwise Gamgee and has attracted 200 members to read the Tolkien trilogy with him.
Numerous notable authors and personalities, including Anthony Doerr, Katherine May, David Sedaris, Adam Grant, Jasmine Guillory, Mimi Lok, and Paulo Coelho, have all created Fable Folios – lists of recommended books – for the platform. New to Fable is a partnership with a bricks-and-mortar bookstore. The company has partnered with Bel Canto Books in Long Beach, Calif., which has selected a folio of recommended books to post on Fable and will be hosting a premium book club moderated by bookstore founder Jhoanna Belfer and focused on the books by and for Asian American Pacific Islander readers on Fable's app.
“Primarily, we see Fable as helping readers discover new books,” said Warrior, who in her social media posts-where she has 1.3 million followers on Twitter-extolls the virtues of reading as an antidote to some of the stress of living through the pandemic.
Looking ahead, the site plans to establish more topical or subject-oriented clubs, like one on books related to the climate, one based on the Iceland Reader's Retreat, or the recently launched RN Book Challenge club, which is focused on helping readers meet a reading challenge issued by Kim Nam-joon, better known by his stage name, RM, and the leader of the South Korean musical group BTS. In addition, Fable is looking at offering support for audiobooks.
“Our plans are simple: we are making Fable into an amazing social community for book lovers,” said Warrior.