John Leguizamo Tapped to Host 2021 Audie Awards

In News by Porter Anderson

Jurors in the 26th annual Audie Awards will have collectively encountered more than 14,000 hours of narration to make their 2021 selections.

John Leguizamo. Image: Guido Venitucci

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

Submissions for 2021: 1,528 entries
The annual Audio Publishers Association Audie Awards event today (February 3) has announced that actor (and audiobook narrator) John Leguizamo will serve as emcee for the March 22 digital event.

2021 audie awards logoThe show will be streamed, free of charge for the public, here.

The association’s executive director, Michele Cobb, says in today’s announcement, “As audio publishing reaches new heights of popularity and creativity, we are thrilled for our evening to be in the skillful hands of the multitalented John Leguizamo.

“John’s own audio productions demonstrate the kind of exciting work happening in the medium. We look forward to celebrating the quality and unique visions of an exciting group of finalists.”

And Leguizamo is quoted, saying, “As someone who loves exploring new mediums in which to express myself, I can’t wait to honor this evolving art form.

Michele Cobb

“In a year that’s been so turbulent, it feels good to pay tribute to the artists who helped us still feel human in an era of social-distancing and self-isolation.”

Highlighted jurors in this year’s competition include Jerry Craft, Melissa de la Cruz, and VE Schwab for the Audie Award for young adult content.

And Jennifer Egan will be joined by Tommy Orange and David Sedaris in jurying the “audiobook of the year” honor.

Those and the program’s other jurors have had their work cut out for them with a record-breaking 1,528 entries representing more than 14,000 hours of audio narration.

A list of finalists in 25 categories is anticipated late this month.

On the Market: A One-Month Wobble for Audio

It’s interesting to note that on the Audio Publishers Association’s landing page, you see a celebratory whoop of “Eight years of double-digit audiobook sales growth!” and this is echoed in today’s media messaging. Certainly such sustained forward motion is great to see.

Ironically, though, downloadable audiobooks in the American market just took an unusual single-month step back from the sector’s usual pell-mell forward rush in the Association of American Publishers’ StatShot report for November 2020. Of course, November itself now seems more than eight years ago.

To be clear, this was by no means a major stumble in digital audiobooks’ power drive forward. It was a small decline of 1.6 percent, coming in at $56.0 million in revenue. And physical audio jumped by 30.0 percent, to $4.1 million. So the assumption here is that early shopping in the pandemic year’s holiday season was behind this unusual sag for digital and step forward for physical formats–wrap-able gifts for stockings and under the tree and a boon for those who still have devices that can play CDs.

Time will tell whether the beginning of an alarm has been spotted, and year-to-date, the StatShot report saw digital audio up 15.2 percent over 2019, the proud progress holding. In that November StatShot, downloadable audio accounted for 5.9 percent of the American book trade, with physical audio formats representing only 0.4 percent of the market.

More from Publishing Perspectives on audiobooks is here, and 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 is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he 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 (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.