BookExpo Hears the Call of Audio: APAC Becomes the Big Conference

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The siren song of audio’s growth in the book business has done its work and the Audio Publishers Association’s day-long event on May 29 will be the main conference event at BookExpo 2019.

The Jacobs K. Javits Center in New York City. Image – iStockphoto: Sean Pavone

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
600 Attendees Registered, Business and Production Tracks
It may sound like a political action committee, but APAC at BookExpo next week is the 2019 Audio Publishers Association Conference.

With its plenary events set in the River Pavilion of the Jacob K. Javits Center overlooking the Hudson, the program on Wednesday (May 29) also has breakout sessions in Hall E. Following a welcome and members’ meeting at the start of the day, the full conference hears a keynote address by New York Magazine Vulture journalist Nicholas Quah, whose Hot Pod Insider coverage of the podcast industry originates in New Haven.

The day then breaks into a production track and a business track, with a late-day keynote from performance psychologist Jonathan Fader, author of Life as Sport (Da Capo Press, 2016).

Michele Cobb

APA executive director Michele Cobb tells Publishing Perspectives that some 600 attendees are registered with an extensive waiting list in place. And the registration roster is bristling with asterisks by new APA members’ names. Attendees’ associations check all the requisite boxes for a full-court turnout, from Penguin Random House Audio, Storytel, Ingram, Scholastic Audio, and Amazon’s Brilliance Publishing and Audible, to Hachette Audio, Macmillan Audio, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster Audio, Rakuten Kobo, BookBub’s Chirp, Copenhagen-based Gyldendal and many more in the audio space.

Sponsors include Rakuten OverDrive, SAG-AFTRA, Bookwire, AudioFile, Findaway, Firebrand, BookTrack, LubbeAudio, MetaComet Systems, Du Art, Deyan Audio, John Marshall Media, Blunder Woman, Zebralution, Hoopla, and DFMI.

Not for nothing has the London Book Fair made audio its invitational inaugural CAMEO Awards event later in the week, where US production of UK-born content will be awarded.

In its production track sessions, much time is going into narration skill development as well as other topics. APAC attendees will hear specialists on topics including dialect acquisition; post-production issues; “audiobook etiquette”; “director diagnostics” for voice talent; and more on point of view in narration, and “using archetypes to fuel character choices.”

In its business track sessions, the conference will hear from Tom Webster of Edison Research on consumer trends and a session on book-buzz type influencers in the business as they relate to audio.

It’s a full day, ending in a networking reception, and some attrition can be expected in the afternoon, of course, as BookExpo’s exhibition floor opens at noon–always an issue for conference planners at the Javits. (The show floor hours on Thursday are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.)

Conference Ebb and Flow

Publishing’s road warriors who gauge the rise and fall of various conferences around the world will remember years when “BookExpo America” was preceded by the IDPF’s (International Digital Publishing Forum) Digital Book conference–until IDPF was made part of the W3C.

IDPF attendees would dash out for sessions at a Publishers Launch conference running simultaneously in another part of the Javits Center’s lower depths.

And BISG’s Making Information Pay conference was known to co-locate with IDPF, as well. Authors’ and bloggers’ conference events were in play, as well, along with regular seminar programming: it’s a wonder anyone made it to the exhibition floor at all.

Diagram of meeting spaces for the Audio Publishers Association conference at the Javits Center. Image: APA

Today, conferencing around most trade shows has become more tightly targeted. At the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, for example, an excellent examination of women in children’s books was programmed as a “flagship conference” by BolognaFiere in cooperation with Acción Cultural Española. This and several other such events billed as conferences are formatted as elongated sessions with large panels of speakers–lighter formats, sharper focus.

London Book Fair has persevered with a battery of opening conferences, its Quantum conference (formerly Digital Minds) being the most generalist of the group–and with director Orna O’Brien’s own emphasis on audio this year–while Introduction to Rights; the “What Works?” education conference; and the Research & Scholarly Forum continue to play out. In March, there was also an LBF-collaborative Nielsen Book UK Children’s Summit on offer, and the “CMC Exchange @LBF”–as trendy as its name–gave attendees a chance to meet potential partners in broadcast and other production development.

In the autumn, Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20) will inaugurate its new Frankfurt Audio area, with exhibition space for both German-language and other international players. Complete with its own stage, the dedicated show space is highlighted by a conference, the all-new Frankfurt Audio Summit on October 17. Additional conference programming includes the Frankfurt Rights Meeting; the Steilvorlagen information and data conference; Franfurt EDU; an International Convention of University Presses event; and more.

APA’s Audio Awards 2019

While previously held during the BookExpo fray in May, this year’s Audio Publishers Association prize cycle, the Audies, delivered its winners in March.

Here are the winning titles.

Audiobook of the Year
Children of Blood and Bone
By Tomi Adeyemi
Narrated by Bahni Turpin
Macmillan Audio

Audio Drama
The Martian Invasion of Earth
By HG Wells, dramatized by Nicholas Briggs
Performed by Richard Armitage and Lucy Briggs-Owen
Big Finish Productions

By Tara Westover
Narrated by Julia Whelan
Penguin Random House Audio

Best Female Narrator
By Tara Westover
Narrated by Julia Whelan
Penguin Random House Audio

Best Male Narrator
By Dean Koontz
Narrated by Edoardo Ballerini
Brilliance Publishing

Business/Personal Development
How to Be Heard
By Julian Treasure
Narrated by Julian Treasure
Blackstone Publishing

Faith-Based Fiction and Nonfiction
The Man on the Mountaintop
By Susan Trott, adapted by Libby Spurrier
Narrated by Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Clare Corbett, Rachel Atkins, Jeff Harding, and David Thorpe
Audible Studios

Spinning Silver
By Naomi Novik
Narrated by Lisa Flanagan
Penguin Random House Audio

The Tattooist of Auschwitz
By Heather Morris
Narrated by Richard Armitage
Harper Audio

Darkest Hour
By Anthony McCarten
Narrated by John Lee

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told
Written and narrated by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally
Penguin Random House Audio

Literary Fiction and Classics
Bleak House
By Charles Dickens
Narrated by Miriam Margolyes
Audible Studios

Middle Grade
By Jason Reynolds
Narrated by Guy Lockard
Simon & Schuster Audio

Multi-Voiced Performance
Dreamland Burning
By Jennifer Latham
Narrated by Pyeng Threadgill and Luke Slattery
Hachette Audio

The Punishment She Deserves
By Elizabeth George
Narrated by Simon Vance
Penguin Random House Audio

Narration by Author or Authors
The Secret of Nightingale Wood
Written and narrated by Lucy Strange
Scholastic Audio

The Perfectionists
By Simon Winchester
Narrated by Simon Winchester

Original Work
By Harvey Edelman and Neil Fishman, adapted for audio by David B. Coe
Narrated by Jim Dale, Barrett Leddy, Lisa Livesay, Nicola Barber, Khristine Hvam, Nick Sullivan, John Brady, and Johnny Heller

His Viking Bride
By Olivia Norem
Narrated by Greg Patmore
Olivia Norem

Science Fiction
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Hexagonal Phase
By Eoin Colfer and Douglas Adams
Narrated by John Lloyd, Simon Jones, Geoff McGivern, Mark Wing-Davey, Sandra Dickinson, Susan Sheridan, Samantha Béart, Toby Longworth, Andy Secombe, Mitch Benn, Jane Horrocks, Ed Byrne, Jon Culshaw, Jim Broadbent, Professor Stephen Hawking, Lenny Henry, Tom Alexander, Philip Pope, Theo Maggs, Phillipe Bosher, and John Marsh
Penguin Random House UK Audio

Short Stories/Collections
Heads of the Colored People
By Nafissa Thompson-Spires
Narrated by Adenrele Ojo
HighBridge Audio, a division of Recorded Books

Crimson Lake
By Candice Fox
Narrated by Euan Morton
Macmillan Audio

Young Adult
By Courtney Summers
Narrated by Dan Bittner, Rebecca Soler, Gabra Zackman, and Fred Berman
Macmillan Audio

Young Listeners
Before She Was Harriet
By Lesa Cline-Ransome
Narrated by SiSi Aisha Johnson, January LaVoy, Lisa Renee Pitts, and Bahni Turpin
Live Oak Media

More on the APA’s Audie Awards is here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Audio Publishers Association is here, more from us on audiobooks is here, and more on BookExpo is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.