Sites that advertise ebook sales seems to be popping up all over the internet. From Bookbub to Book Gorilla to Pixel of Ink, all strive to “personalize” listings for subscribers. But when I stumbled across The Fussy Librarian, I was impressed with the clean beauty of the site, the level of personalization for readers and the searchability of recent book sales. The cute librarian icon didn’t hurt, either πŸ™‚

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While other sites allow you to choose genres of fiction and nonfiction, The Fussy Librarian also lets you specify different languages and any content you might want to avoid, including profanity, violence and sex. They also include audiobooks. The site keeps growing in popularity – they added about 6,000 subscribers in the last month – maintaining a steady rise since launching late last year. So who’s the mastermind behind the scenes? You might be surprised to find that the librarian is neither a woman or a librarian! Introducing Jeffrey Bruner, the man behind the woman in pink.

Your librarian icon is really cute, but, well, you’re a guy! Why is the librarian a woman?
Yeah, but the majority of librarians are women. So it seemed appropriate that she should be female. I’d like to point out that while the icon is a stereotype, Fussy’s “origin story” on the website really blows those stereotypes out of the water. In my eyes, she’s the first librarian superhero. And if any career deserves a superhero, it’s librarians.

Can’t argue there! What gave you the idea to start The Fussy Librarian?
It happened at Disney World, of all places. I was visiting with my parents, my brother and my two nephews. Standing in one of many lines, my mom mentioned she was on the waiting list for a popular book at the library. “What’s the title?” I asked. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” she said. (Gulp.) I explained to my mom what the book was about, because while there’s nothing wrong with senior citizens reading erotic romance novels, I knew that my mom would be mortified. And that led to the idea that, hey, there’s got to be a way to let people set preferences based on content. My theory is a lot of people don’t branch out into new authors because they don’t know what to expect … The Fussy Librarian solves that problem for them.

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I love the clean look and easy interface. Did you design it or did you work with designers/programmers?
Thank you. The clever people at Global Reach Internet deserve the credit for designing the website. They did a great job.

I agree. When did you start working on it?
The contract was signed with the website designers in August 2014 and we launched in the middle of October. It was surprising how quickly it came together because it’s a lot more than just a website — it’s a database that generates personalized emails for subscribers.

And once you launched, how long did it take to start getting subscribers?
It’s been slow and steady since we launched. We had 5,500 subscribers toward the end of last year and about 14,500 at the end of July. It’s only since then that we’ve started to take off — reached the 20,000 mark on Aug. 9 and our latest marketing campaign will let us double in size by the middle of September. And 2015 … well, I’ll just say I’m expecting it to be a very good year πŸ™‚

What did you do before you started The Fussy Librarian?
I was a copy editor and wire editor — and still am — for the nation’s largest newspaper company, Gannett. I select the nation, world and business stories for about 30 newspapers and keep them updated throughout the day. I work on The Fussy Librarian in the evenings. It’s not a full-time job … yet.

A newspaper guy – that explains the great interviews you serve up on the website and in your newsletters. What do you read when you’re not tending the library?
I like thrillers and mysteries, but I don’t get to read nearly as much now that the website demands all of my free time.

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What are your favorite books of all time?
Oh boy. That’s always such a hard question! If I had to pick five it would be these: Jim Lehrer’s “Short List” and “Kick the Can,” both part of his One-Eyed Mack series of satiric novels; Pat Frank’s “Alas, Babylon,” which I read as a child and has stayed with me for decades, Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” which opened my eyes in ways that my suburban childhood could have never done; and Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery.”

I remember reading “The Lottery” – great story! But it doesn’t sound like you’ll need a lottery ticket, Jeffrey – you’ve got a winning site with The Fussy Librarian. Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks, Sherrie!

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