Audio Publishers Association Names the 2021 Audie Awards Finalists

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The annual Audie Awards program for audiobooks, now in its 26th year, prepares for a digital awards ceremony on March 22, having started with some 1,500 submissions in the pandemic year.

In Madrid, January 9. Image – iStockphoto: Alvaro Bueno

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

The Spanish-Language Category Returns
The release late today (February 23) of shortlists in the running for the 26th annual Audie Awards means a stack of 25 categories with a winners’ event to be streamed on March 22 at 9 p.m. ET (0200 GMT March 23). A digital red carpet event starts at 8:30 p.m. ET (0130 GMT).

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, John Leguizamo is to serve as host for the event and jurors for the top prize, Audiobook of the Year, are Jennifer Egan, Tommy Orange, and David Sedaris. The YA Audie Award has been juried by Jerry Craft, VE Schwab, and Melissa de la Cruz.

While there were 24 categories last year, the 25 this year include the reintroduction of the Spanish-Language Audie, last awarded in 2010. The executive director of the Audio Publishers Association, Michele Cobb, is reliably committed to the  internationalist elements of the format, its reach, and potential, a frequent speaker and delegate to book fairs and trade shows in world publishing.

This year’s lists of Audie Awards finalists are drawn from some 1,500 initial submissions, the most entries made yet for a year of the program’s operation. Last year’s finalists were chosen from an initial 1,300 submissions.

The market presence of audiobooks expanded in 2020, of course, amid the digital acceleration of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. That acceleration in publishing terms has to do with the quick upturn in digital-format adoption by consumers in many parts of the world during spread-mitigation confinements and lockdowns. It’s understood that many were introduced to listening to books, just as many read ebooks for the first time.

Industry specialists are watching now to see how well those rates of elevated digital-format usage will hold up in our vaccinated future.

Finalists in the 2021 Audie Awards

Audiobook of the Year

  • The Decision: Overcoming Today’s BS for Tomorrow’s Success, written and narrated by Kevin Hart, published by Audible Originals
  • More Myself, written and narrated by Alicia Keys, published by Macmillan Audio
  • The Mountains Sing, by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, narrated by Quyen Ngo, published by Dreamscape Media LLC
  • Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke, narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor, published by Bloomsbury PLC
  • We’re Better Than This, by Elijah Cummings with James Dale, narrated by Nancy Pelosi, Laurence Fishburne, and Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, published by HarperAudio

Audio Drama

  • ATA Girl 2, by Helen Goldwyn and Louise Jameson, performed by Cory Chambers, Kate Copeland, Amy Downham, Helen Goldwyn, Holly Jackson Walters, Louise Jameson, Wilf Scolding, and Elinor Lawless, published by Big Finish Productions
  • Come Find Me, by Erin Mallon, performed by Cynthia Darlow, Jonathan Davis, Caitlin Kelly, Erin Mallon, and Thérèse Plummer, published by Erin Mallon
  • Doctor Who – Stranded 1, by Matt Fitton, David K Barnes, Lisa McMullin, and John Dorney, performed by Paul McGann, Nicola Walker, Hattie Morahan, Rebecca Root, Tom Price, and Tom Baker, published by Big Finish Productions
  • The Ernie Pyle Experiment! by Michael Brainard and script editor Russell McGee, performed by Michael Brainard, Greta Lind, Kate Braun, Andrew Bowen, Josh Hogan, Tim Grimm, Peter Spellos, and a full cast, published by WFIU Public Radio
  • Frankenstein: A Stage Adaptation, adapted by A.S. Peterson, performed by Jared Reinfeldt, Euriamis Losada, Henry O. Arnold, Kim Bretton, Morgan Davis, Matt Rose, Micah Williams, Brooks Bennett, Austin Olive, and Garris Wimmer, published by Oasis Audio

Autobiography/Memoir

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley, by Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley, narrated by Laurence Fishburne, published by Audible, Inc.
  • Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous, narrated by Gabra Zackman, featuring J. Smith-Cameron and Lyle Lovett, published by HMH Audio
  • Mr. New Orleans: The Life of a Big Easy Underworld Legend, by Frenchy Brouillette and Matthew Randazzo V, narrated by Louis Herthum, published by Sound Off Productions
  • Sigh, Gone, written and narrated by Phuc Tran, published by Macmillan Audio
  • Uncanny Valley, by Anna Wiener, narrated by Suehyla El-Attar, published by Macmillan Audio

Best Female Narrator

  • The City We Became, by N. K. Jemisin, narrated by Robin Miles, published by Hachette Audio
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, narrated by Samira Wiley, published by Audible Studios
  • The Lying Life of Adults, by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein, narrated by Marisa Tomei, published by Penguin Random House Audio
  • One by One by Ruth Ware, narrated by Imogen Church, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, narrated by Nicole Lewis, published by Penguin Random House Audio

Best Male Narrator

  • All the Devils Are Here, by Louise Penny, narrated by Robert Bathurst, published by Macmillan Audio
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley by Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley, narrated by Laurence Fishburne, published by Audible, Inc.
  • The Glimme, by Emily Rodda and Marc McBride, narrated by Andrew Scott, published by Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.
  • A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman, narrated by J.K. Simmons, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Squeeze Me, by Carl Hiaasen, narrated by Scott Brick, published by Penguin Random House Audio

Business/Personal Development

  • The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life, by Dr. Edith Eva Eger, narrated by Tovah Feldshuh, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs, written and narrated by Guy Raz, published by Audible Studios
  • Hustle Harder, Hustle Smarter, written and narrated by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, published by HarperAudio
  • Improvise! by Max Dickins, narrated by Steve West, published by Brilliance Publishing
  • Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss, narrated by Tim Ferris, Ryan Holiday, Kevin Rose, Jocko Willink, Tim Kreider, Ralph Potts, Mike Delaponte, Kaleo Griffith, Ray Porter, and Thérèse Plummer, published by Audible Studios

Faith-Based Fiction and Nonfiction

  • Chasing Vines, written and narrated by Beth Moore, published by Oasis Audio
  • Cliff Falls: The Missing Pieces Edition, by C. B. Shiepe, narrated by Santino Fontana, published by Cliff Falls Media, Inc.
  • Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire, written and narrated by Jen Hatmaker, published by Thomas Nelson
  • Old School Love, written and narrated by Joseph “Rev Run” Simmons and Justine Simmons, published by HarperAudio
  • The Power of Favor, written and narrated by Joel Osteen, published by Hachette Audio

Fantasy

  • The City We Became, by N. K. Jemisin, narrated by Robin Miles, published by Hachette Audio
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune, narrated by Daniel Henning, published by Macmillan Audio
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, by V. E. Schwab, narrated by Julia Whelan, published by Macmillan Audio
  • The Last Smile in Sunder City, written and narrated by Luke Arnold, published by Hachette Audio
  • Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko, narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt, published by Blackstone Publishing

Fiction

  • Big Lies in a Small Town, by Diane Chamberlain, narrated by Susan Bennett, published by Macmillan Audio
  • The Last Story of Mina Lee, by Nancy Jooyoun Kim, narrated by Greta Jung, published by HarperAudio
  • The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig, narrated by Carey Mulligan, published by Canongate Books UK / Penguin Random House Audio US
  • Sex and Vanity, by Kevin Kwan, narrated by Lydia Look, published by Penguin Random House Audio
  • Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid, narrated by Nicole Lewis, published by Penguin Random House Audio

History/Biography

  • The Dead Are Arising, by Les Payne and Tamara Payne, narrated by Dion Graham, published by Recorded Books
  • Deep Delta Justice, by Matthew Van Meter, narrated by Brad Sanders, published by Hachette Audio
  • His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and the Power of Hope, by Jon Meacham, with an afterword by John Lewis, narrated by JD Jackson, published by Penguin Random House Audio
  • JRR Tolkien: The Making of a Legend, by Colin Duriez, narrated by Simon Vance, published by Oasis Audio
  • Just Us: An American Conversation, by Claudia Rankine, narrated by Janina Edwards, published by Audible Studios
  • The Lincoln Conspiracy, by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch, narrated by Scott Brick, published by Macmillan Audio

Humor

  • The New One, written and narrated by Mike Birbiglia and J. Hope Stein, published by Hachette Audio
  • Nothing Like I Imagined, written and narrated by Mindy Kaling, published by Brilliance Publishing
  • Small Doses, written and narrated by Amanda Seales, published by Audible Studios
  • Surrender, White People!, by D.L. Hughley and Doug Moe, narrated by D.L. Hughley, published by HarperAudio
  • A Very Punchable Face, written and narrated by Colin Jost, published by Penguin Random House Audio
  • Wow, No Thank You, written and narrated by Samantha Irby, published by Penguin Random House Audio

Literary Fiction and Classics

  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, narrated by Samira Wiley, published by Audible Studios
  • Deacon King Kong, by James McBride, narrated by Dominic Hoffman, published by Penguin Random House Audio
  • The Death of Vivek Oji, by Akwaeke Emezi, narrated by Yetide Badaki and Chukwudi Iwuji, published by Penguin Random House Audio
  • Pew, by Catherine Lacey, narrated by Bahni Turpin, published by Brilliance Publishing
  • These Ghosts Are Family, by Maisy Card, narrated by Karl O’Brian Williams, published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Middle Grade

  • Genesis Begins Again, written and narrated by Alicia D. Williams, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • The Good Hawk, by Joseph Elliott, narrated by Fiona Hardingham and Gary Furlong, published by Brilliance Publishing
  • King and the Dragonflies, by Kacen Callender, narrated by Ron Butler, published by Scholastic Audio
  • Say Her Name, by Zetta Elliott, narrated by Channie Waites, published by Recorded Books
  • Shuri: A Black Panther Novel, Book 1, by Nic Stone, narrated by Anika Noni Rose, published by Scholastic Audio
  • We Dream of Space, by Erin Entrada Kelly, narrated by Ramon de Ocampo, published by HarperAudio

Multi-Voiced Performance

  • Clap When You Land, by Elizabeth Acevedo, narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo and Melania-Luisa Marte, published by HarperAudio
  • How the Penguins Saved Veronica, by Hazel Prior, narrated by Helen Lloyd, Andrew Fallaize, and Mandy Williams, published by Penguin Random House Audio
  • No Name by Wilkie Collins, narrated by Nicholas Boulton, Lucy Scott, Rachel Atkins, David Rintoul, Russell Bentley, and John Foley, published by Naxos AudioBooks c/o Naxos of America, Inc.
  • The Switch, by Beth O’Leary, narrated by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Alison Steadman, published by Macmillan Audio
  • The Trial of the Chicago 7, edited by Mark L. Levine, George C. McNamee, and Daniel L. Greenberg, narrated by J.K. Simmons, Jeff Daniels, Chris Jackson, Corey Stoll, John Hawkes, Chris Chalk, Luke Kirby, Norbert Leo Butz, George Newbern, and a full cast, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Women Who Wrote, by Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Emily Bronte, Gertrude Stein, and Phillis Wheatley, narrated by Chloe Dolandis, Jude Mason, and Tyra Kennedy, published by Thomas Nelson

Mystery

  • A Bad Day for Sunshine, by Darynda Jones, narrated by Lorelei King, published by Macmillan Audio
  • Confessions on the 7:45, by Lisa Unger, narrated by Vivienne Leheny, published by HarperAudio
  • Fair Warning, by Michael Connelly, narrated by Peter Giles and Zach Villa, published by Hachette Audio
  • The Guest List, by Lucy Foley, narrated by Chloe Massey, Olivia Dowd, Sarah Ovens, Rich Keeble, Aoife McMahon, and Jot Davies, published by HarperAudio
  • Trouble Is What I Do, by Walter Mosley, narrated by Dion Graham, published by Hachette Audio

Narration by Author or Authors

  • Acid for the Children, written and narrated by Flea, published by Hachette Audio
  • Hollywood Park, written and narrated by Mikel Jollett, published by Macmillan Audio
  • Homie: Poems, written and narrated by Danez Smith, published by HighBridge Audio, a division of Recorded Books
  • In Dependence, written and narrated by Sarah Ladipo Manyika, published by Recorded Books
  • Little Weirds, written and narrated by Jenny Slate, published by Hachette Audio
  • More Myself, written and narrated by Alicia Keys, published by Macmillan Audio

Nonfiction

  • Fire in Paradise, by Alastair Gee and Dani Anguiano, narrated by T. Ryder Smith, published by Recorded Books
  • If You Tell, by Gregg Olsen, narrated by Karen Peakes, published by Brilliance Publishing
  • Rage, by Bob Woodward, narrated by Robert Petkoff, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, narrated by Jennifer Garner, published by Penguin Random House Audio
  • Wandering in Strange Lands, written and narrated by Morgan Jerkins, published by HarperAudio

Original Work

  • Barack Obama: The 60 Minutes Interviews, by Steve Kroft, narrated by Barack Obama and Steve Kroft, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • The Confederacy: Truth and Reconciliation, written and narrated by T Bone Burnett, published by Audible Originals
  • The End of My Heart by Gayle Forman, narrated by Diane Kruger, Piper Goodeve, Gabriel Vaughan, Elizabeth Evans, Josh Hurley, Amanda Ronconi, Emily Bauer, Neil Hellegers, and Jesse Einstein, published by Audible Originals
  • Getting Started with Sourdough: From Flour to Levain to One Great Loaf, written and narrated by Chad Robertson and Jennifer Latham, published by Penguin Random House Audio
  • When You Finish Saving the World, by Jesse Eisenberg, narrated by Finn Wolfhard, Kaitlyn Dever, and Jesse Eisenberg, published by Audible Originals

Romance

  • Call Me Maybe, by Cara Bastone, narrated by Luci Christian and Neil Hellegers, published by Audible Originals
  • Chasing Cassandra, by Lisa Kleypas, narrated by Mary Jane Wells, published by HarperAudio
  • Dirty Letters, by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward, narrated by Andi Arndt and Jacob Morgan, published by Brilliance Publishing
  • Get a Life, Chloe Brown, by Talia Hibbert, narrated by Adjoa Andoh, published by HarperAudio
  • The Honey-Don’t List, by Christina Lauren, narrated by Patti Murin and Jon Root, published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Science Fiction

  • Aliens: Phalanx, by Scott Sigler, narrated by Bronson Pinchot, published by Blackstone Publishing
  • Axiom’s End, by Lindsay Ellis, narrated by Stephanie Willis and Oliver Thorn, published by Macmillan Audio
  • The Deep, by Rivers Solomon, with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes, narrated by Daveed Diggs, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Heaven’s River, by Dennis E. Taylor, narrated by Ray Porter, published by Audible Originals
  • Ruins of the Galaxy, by JN Chaney and Christopher Hopper, narrated by R.C. Bray, published by Podium Audio
  • Star Wars: Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising, by Timothy Zahn, narrated by Marc Thompson, published by Penguin Random House Audio

Short Stories/Collections

  • Burnt Tongues, edited by Chuck Palahniuk, Richard Thomas, and Dennis Widmyer, narrated by Christopher David, Jordan Killam, Pete Cross, Cady Zuckerman, Nick Mondelli, David Bendena, Pat Grimes, Mark Owen, Kat Rose-Martin, Chris Andrew Ciulla, Katherine Littrell, James Patrick Cronin, Timothy Andrés Pabon, Cary Hite, Qarie Marshall, Jack Meloche, Thom Rivera, Steve West, Steve Wojtas, Tanya Eby, Patrick Lawlor, published by Dreamscape Media LLC
  • The Chekhov Collection of Short Stories, by Anton Chekhov, narrated by Richard Armitage, published by Audible Studios
  • Inquire Within, written and narrated by In-Q, published by HarperAudio
  • Inside Jobs: Tales from a Time of Quarantine, by Ben H. Winters, narrated by Scott Aiello, Kevin T. Collins, and Ellen Archer, published by Audible Originals
  • Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, written and narrated by Cathy Park Hong, published by Penguin Random House Audio

Spanish Language

  • Evelyn Del Rey se muda [Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away], by Meg Medina, narrated by Jane Santos, published by Dreamscape Media LLC
  • La Hermandad del Triskelion, by German Rodriguez Citraro, narrated by Juan Guzman, published by FonoLibro Inc
  • El Laberinto del Fauno, by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke, narrated by Luis Ávila, published by Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial México
  • Mi sombría Vanessa, by Kate Elizabeth Russell, narrated by Ximena Restrepo, published by HarperAudio
  • Si, si es contigo, written and narrated by Calle y Poché, published by Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial Colombia

Thriller/Suspense

  • If It Bleeds, by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton, Danny Burstein, and Steven Weber, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • The Only Good Indians, by Stephen Graham Jones, narrated by Shaun Taylor-Corbett, published by Simon & Schuster Audio
  • The Sentinel, by Lee Child and Andrew Child, narrated by Scott Brick, published by Penguin Random House Audio
  • When No One Is Watching, by Alyssa Cole, narrated by Susan Dalian and Jay Aaseng, published by HarperAudio
  • Yard Work, by David Koepp, narrated by Kevin Bacon, published by Audible Originals

Young Adult

  • Clap When You Land, by Elizabeth Acevedo, narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo and Melania-Luisa Marte, published by HarperAudio
  • Everything Sad Is Untrue (A True Story), written and narrated by Daniel Nayeri, published by Penguin Random House Audio
  • Poisoned, by Jennifer Donnelly, narrated by Rosie Jones, published by Scholastic Audio
  • A Song Below Water, by Bethany C. Morrow, narrated by Jennifer Haralson and Andrea Laing, published by Macmillan Audio
  • This Is My America, by Kim Johnson, narrated by Bahni Turpin, published by Penguin Random House Audio

Young Listeners

  • Going Down Home with Daddy, by Kelly Starling Lyons, narrated by Daxton Edwards, published by Dreamscape Media LLC
  • The Overground Railroad, by Lesa Cline-Ransome, narrated by Shayna Small and Dion Graham, published by Live Oak Media
  • Rise! From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou by Bethany Hegedus, narrated by Cherise Booth, published by Live Oak Media
  • Say Something, written and narrated by Peter H. Reynolds, published by Weston Woods Studios
  • The Sesame Street Podcast with Foley and Friends, by Sesame Workshop, narrated by Lindsey Briggs, Tyler Bunch, Ryan Dillon, and a full cast, published by Audible Studios
  • Stuck, by Chris Grabenstein, narrated by Mark Sanderlin, Elizabeth Hess, Oliver Wyman, Farah Bala, Rita Wolf, Caroline Grogan, Cynthia Darlow, Mateo D’Amato, J.J. Myers, Neil Hellegers, Genesis Oliver, and Chris Grabenstein, published by Audible Originals

You can review last year’s Audie Awards winners here.

Audiobook Statistics

The most recent StatShot report from the Association of American Publishers registered an uncharacteristic break in its customary monthly growth curve, observed since 2012. Audiobooks declined 1.6 percent for November, coming in at $56.0 million in revenue. The Audio Publishers Association—based in the United States—is undaunted by such a fact in its information today about the Audies finalists, hailing the format’s “eight years in a row of double-digit revenue growth.”

And as handsome as that growth surely is, it’s good to remember that downloaded and physical audio combined represent less than 10 percent of the American market’s book sales. In the November StatShot report, in fact, downloaded audio stood at 5.9 percent of the market’s formats and physical audio 0.4 percent. For context, ebooks stood at 9.3 percent of the market, paperbacks at 27.3 percent, and hardcover books at 49.2 percent.

Much more room for audiobooks’ growth awaits.


More from Publishing Perspectives on audiobooks is here, more on the Audie Awards is here, and more on the Audio Publishers Association is here. More from us on publishing and book awards is here.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing 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 2019 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 also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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