Zibby Owens: The Many Hats Of ‘Moms Don’t Have Time To Read Books’ Host & Author

Zibby Owens wears many hats. She hosts the podcast “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” and is the founder and CEO of Zibby Media, which includes the publishing house Zibby Books, a book club, retreats, classes, and events. She also owns Zibby’s Bookshop, an independent bookstore in Santa Monica. Her latest novel, “Blank,” is out now. We caught up with Owens to learn more.

Tell us about your novel, “Blank.”

“Blank” is my USA Today bestselling debut novel about a woman named Pippa Jones that takes place over six days in LA. Pippa is a former bestselling author who can’t come up with an idea for a follow-up and decides, at the advice of her son, to hand it in blank as a commentary on the publishing industry! That decision turns her life upside down. The book is also about Pippa’s everyday hilarious struggles as a mom, a best friend, a daughter, and someone trying to hold it all together. My hope is that readers will get a behind-the-scenes peek at the publishing industry, think more critically about how they find the books they love, and remind everyone that it’s never too late to start your next chapter. Also, it’s a quick read! Most people down it in a couple days. Perfect for the summer!

Photo courtesy Zibby Owens

What inspired you to start the “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” podcast?

To be honest, I was trying to “build a platform” in order to sell a book of parenting essays. I wasn’t on social media. The fact that I’d been freelancing since I was 14 years old meant nothing! When I consulted a few agents, they mentioned that I had to build my own brand more before being able to sell a book. A girlfriend, author Sarah Mlynowski, suggested I start a podcast. So I did! I’ve always been interested in talking to authors who I consider true rock stars. My first pen-pal relationship with an author started when I was ten years old! And as a lifelong reader, nothing made me happier than the idea of getting to know the authors behind the pages that changed my life. Now, six years later, I’ve interviewed 1,800 authors, and the show has not only led to five books of my own, but a publishing house, a bookstore, and a whole media company designed to uplift authors and connect readers.

Tell us about Zibby’s Bookshop. Are there any plans to open in New York?

Oh, this is my true happy place! Zibby’s Bookshop on 11th and Montana in Santa Monica, CA, is my independent bookstore that focuses on creative curation and community. We have intimate author events three to five times a week with today’s most interesting authors, celebrities, and more. Each shelf has its own theme: books that make you laugh, books that make you cry, reeling from divorce, motherhood malaise. It’s designed to promote the discoverability of new authors who might change your life. Santa Monica didn’t have a bookstore, so the community is extremely happy and thankful to have a meeting spot, cultural hub, and book outlet in their midst. In New York, there are already so many bookstores! But never say never.

Photo courtesy Zibby Owens

You started a publishing house called Zibby Books. Can you talk about some of the exciting titles you have coming out?

Sure! I started Zibby Books after speaking to more than 1,000 authors, many of whom lamented the state of the publishing industry. It broke my heart that these talented authors didn’t always feel appreciated, invested in, or set up for success. I decided to try doing things a bit differently. For us, with one book released per month, every book is a lead title. We regularly partner with brands to expand the reach of our authors. We have fun launch events, book tours for everyone, ambassadors all over the country, a true collaborative relationship, and knowledge sharing among all the authors on our team.

May/June: Swan Huntley’s novel “I Want You More” about a ghostwriter who comes to East Hampton to live with a celebrity chef for the summer whose memoir she’s writing. It quickly turns into a “Single White Female” meets “War of the Roses” situation. What’s particularly fun for East End readers is all the local spots the characters visit. Think: Citarella, Main Street shopping, and more! (We’re doing a free tote with purchase at BookHampton while supplies last!)

July: Joselyn Takacs’s “Pearce Oysters” is next. It’s an eco-fiction literary work about a family of oyster farmers in the Louisiana Bayou affected by the BP Oil Spill. It’s so good!

August: For short story lovers, we have Mary Jones’s “The Goodbye Process,” a dark, beautiful collection of stories designed to make you think and feel.

Another title that’s perfect for the beach is “The Last Love Note” by Emma Grey, about a mom who has to start her second act in life and just might end up on a beautiful Australian beach with a certain gentleman. Think: “Bridget Jones’s Diary” vibes.

We loved the retreat you held at Canoe Place last year. Do you have any plans for upcoming retreats on the East End?

Thank you! I loved it, too! We’re partnering with Canoe Place for custom experiences this summer, so stay tuned. We don’t have another full-on retreat planned yet for Out East, but we do have lots of fun events. Our next retreat is in Palm Springs in September. Join us!

Are there any signings or events coming up on the East End? 

Yes! Here are our authors’ schedules. I’m also excited to be a part of Authors Night at the East Hampton Library with “Blank!” You can get signed copies of “Blank” at all local bookstores. Hope to see it on many beach towels this summer!

Joselyn Takacs’s “Pearce Oysters”: July 19 at 5 PM: Finley’s Fiction Event at The Ram’s Head Inn; July 20 at 3 PM: Canoe Place Event; July 20 at 5 PM: BookHampton Event in conversation with Zibby Owens; July 21 at 12 PM: Barnes & Noble Bridgehampton Signing. 

Swan Huntley’s “I Want You More”: August 8 at 12 PM: Barnes & Noble Bridgehampton Event; August 8 at 6:30 PM: Canoe Place Event; August 9 at 9:30 AM: Elements Barre Class Event with Zibby Owens; August 9 at 12 PM: Finley’s Fiction Event at Shelter Island Yacht Club, in conversation with Zibby Owens; August 9 at 6 PM: Southampton Arts Center Author Panel with Zibby Owens, Audrey Bellezza, and Emily Hardin.

What are a few of your favorite places on the East End? 

I love all the area bookstores: BookHampton, Sag Harbor Bookstore, the new Barnes & Noble in Bridgehampton, and Finley’s Fiction in Shelter Island. I also love breakfast at the Candy Kitchen with my kids, a late afternoon treat at Sundae’s on Main in Bridgehampton, Round Swamp, Harry’s Farm Stand, the Monogram Shop in East Hampton, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Buddhaberry in Sag Harbor, the restaurant at Canoe Place, Sag Pizza, and the Bridgehampton Tennis & Surf Club.

Jessica Mackin-Cipro


Jessica Mackin-Cipro is an editor and lifestyle writer from the East End of Long Island. She has won NYPA and PCLI awards for journalism and social media. She was previously the Executive Editor of The Independent Newspaper.

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