Awards: The ‘Project Hail Mary’ Audiobook Wins the 2022 Audies

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The 27th Audie Awards on March 4 honored winners in 25 categories in a 70-minute digital awards program with Kal Penn hosting.

Image: 2022 Audie Awards

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

Ears People vs. Eyes People
In its digital Audie Awards ceremony Friday night (March 4), the Audio Publishers Association named the Audible Studios evocation of Andy Weir’s Project Hail Mary the Audiobook of the Year.

That winning audiobook runs 16 hours and 10 minutes. It’s an unabridged rendition of Weir’s May 4, 2021, release from Penguin Random House. It’s narrated by the prolific Roy Porter, a familiar voice to many of us. And it also won in the Audies’ category of Science Fiction.

In speaking about the selection, juror Gayle Forman said, “The audio of Project Hail Mary did exactly what I want an audiobook to do, which is to use the medium to expand the story. If this sci-fi book could make a fan out of me, a lover of contemporary realistic fiction, it could definitely win over any first-time audio listeners.”

The video for the 27th annual awards announcements was hosted this year by actor Kal Penn.

Kal Penn

Curiously, at times this cleanly produced programming seemed to be trying to start a fight between fans of audio and those of other reading media. Even if this was meant as good-natured fun, it may not have succeeded as hoped. Penn, for example, proposed a generational wedge in his open, saying, “The Audies are our annual celebration of creativity in the field of audiobooks. Or, as everyone under the age of 30 now calls them, books.”

In an opening rap accompanied by some agile graphics, the audience also heard, “And we’ll flip the bird to the haters, folks who think that books need paper.”

The Audies appeared to be unmasking animosity between eyes-people and ears-people, as if we’re all dissing each other about how we consume books. Of course, we all know how helpful divisiveness is in the world today. We can be pretty sure it would be no boost to the publishing industry to get its consumers mad at each other.

It’s likely this tack was thought to be tongue-in-cheek. Some kinds of humor work better than others. Maybe there will be time for a good post-mortem before next year’s show.

Image: 2022 Audie Awards

Audie Awards: 2022 Winners

You can review the shortlisted audiobooks for the 2022 Audie Awards in our report here.

Audiobook of the Year

Project Hail Mary       

  • Written by Andy Weir
  • Narrated by Ray Porter
  • Published by Audible Studios

Audio Drama

Sherlock Holmes – The Seamstress of Peckham Rye

  • Written by Jonathan Barnes
  • Performed by Nicholas Briggs, Richard Earl, Lucy Briggs-Owen, India Fisher, James Joyce, Anjella MacKintosh, Glen McCready, and Mark Elstob
  • Published by Big Finish Productions

Autobiography/Memoir

Somebody’s Daughter

  • Written and narrated by Ashley C. Ford
  • Published by Macmillan Audio

Best Female Narrator

Deepti Gupta in The Parted Earth

  • Written by Anjali Enjeti
  • Published by Novel Audio

Best Male Narrator

Lin-Manuel Miranda in Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the World

  • Written by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
  • Published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Business/Personal Development

Machiavelli for Women

  • Written and narrated by Stacey Vanek Smith
  • Published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Spanish Language

La casa de Bernarda Alba

  • Written by Federico García Lorca
  • Narrated by Gloria Muñoz, Elena González, Rebeca Hernando, Carmen Mayordomo, Marta Poveda, Sol de la Barreda, Beatriz Melgares, Cristina Arias, and Antonio Martínez Asensio
  • Published by Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial

Faith-Based Fiction or Nonfiction

The Gift of Black Folk

  • Written by W.E.B. Du Bois
  • Narrated by Arnell Powell
  • Published by Brilliance Publishing

Fantasy

Rhythm of War

  • Written by Brandon Sanderson
  • Narrated by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading
  • Published by Macmillan Audio

Fiction

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev       

  • Written by Dawnie Walton
  • Narrated by Janina Edwards, Bahni Turpin, James Langton, André De Shields, Dennis Boutsikaris, Steve West, Gabra Zackman, Robin Miles, and a full cast
  • Published by Simon & Schuster Audio

History/Biography

Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other

  • Written and narrated by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish (with a foreword written and narrated by Diana Gabaldon)
  • Published by Hodder & Stoughton

Humor

How Y’all Doing?

  • Written and narrated by Leslie Jordan
  • Published by HarperAudio

Literary Fiction and Classics

All Creatures Great and Small

  • Written by James Herriot
  • Narrated by Nicholas Ralph
  • Published by Macmillan Audio

Middle Grade

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt

  • Written by Varian Johnson
  • Narrated by Dion Graham
  • Published by Scholastic Audio

Multi-Voiced Performance

Heresy

  • Written by Melissa Lenhardt
  • Narrated by Barrie Kreinik, Bailey Carr, Ella Turenne, Nikki Massoud, Natalie Naudus, Imani Jade Powers, and James Fouhey
  • Published by Hachette Audio

Mystery

Later

  • Written by Stephen King
  • Narrated by Seth Numrich
  • Published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Narration by the Author(s)

A Promised Land

  • Written and narrated by Barack Obama
  • Published by Penguin Random House Audio

Nonfiction

The Joy of Sweat

  • Written by Sarah Everts
  • Narrated by Sophie Amoss
  • Published by Penguin Random House Audio

Original Work

Heroine

  • Written and narrated by Mary Jane Wells
  • Published by Author’s Republic

Romance

Reel: Hollywood Renaissance, Book 1

  • Written by Kennedy Ryan
  • Narrated by Eboni Flowers, Jakobi Diem, Nicole Small, and April Christina
  • Published by Scribechick Media LLC, Produced by Lyric Audiobooks

Science Fiction

Project Hail Mary

  • Written by Andy Weir
  • Narrated by Ray Porter
  • Published by Audible Studios

Short Stories/Collections

Blackout

  • Written by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon
  • Narrated by Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Dion Graham, Imani Parks, Jordan Cobb, Shayna Small, A.J. Beckles, and Bahni Turpin
  • Published by HarperAudio

Thriller/Suspense

Local Woman Missing

  • Written by Mary Kubica
  • Narrated by Brittany Pressley, Jennifer Jill Araya, Gary Tiedemann, and Jesse Vilinsky
  • Published by HarperAudio

Young Adult

Be Dazzled

  • Written by Ryan La Sala
  • Narrated by Pete Cross
  • Published by Dreamscape Media

Young Listeners

I and I Bob Marley

  • Written by Tony Medina
  • Narrated by Jaime Lincoln Smith and Tony Medina
  • Published by Live Oak Media
The Fog of Awards

Image: 2022 Audie Awards

With the Audio Publishing Association’s proven track record for truly useful industry research and data—and its faithful focus on a single format—many publishing professionals might appreciate seeing the Audie Awards follow the lead of the Booker Prize for Fiction and report to the industry what effect can be detected on sales after the announcement of these wins.

  • Will sales of the Andy Weir audiobook jump in the next few weeks after it has won the top Audie Award?
  • Will Be Dazzled by Ryan La Sala in its audiobook production from Dreamscape Media—narrated by Pete Cross—be selling more copies a month from now after winning the Young Adult Audie Award? That one was published on January 5, 2021, by Dominique Raccah’s Sourcebooks and its audiobook runs eight hours.
  • Is a boost in sales ahead for the one-hour-19-minute La casa de Bernarda Alba following its win in the Spanish Language category? The play is beloved of actors, as you may know, especially for its cast of all-women characters. Published by Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial in a series of handsomely designed García Lorca works, the audio edition is narrated by Gloria Muñoz, Elena González, Rebeca Hernando, Carmen Mayordomo, Marta Poveda, Sol de la Barreda, Beatriz Melgares, Cristina Arias, and Antonio Martínez Asensio.

Ana Maria Allessi

Audiobook Publishers Association president Ana Maria Allessi introduced the Spanish Language award during the presentation Friday night herself, as a matter of fact, saying that in three years, the number of Spanish-language audiobooks on the market has doubled. That’s good context. And context is one of the things the association has become so good at providing.

Under Michele Cobb‘s research-savvy leadership as executive director, the organization may be able to handle a follow-up that demonstrates where sales moved after various titles’ wins were announced Friday night. This could help flesh out what is actually a rather thin idea of the value of prizes in an industry that may actually be numbing consumers to the importance of an award, rather than attracting those buyers.

The publishing industry is awash in awards. So much so that the actual competition for many of these programs is not between authors or publishers but between the prize programs themselves, fighting each other for air in various news media (like this medium).

The business’ seemingly logical rationale for that annual ocean-deep deluge of prize programs is that shiny prize stickers drive sales, on book covers and also on audiobook-cover images on retailer’s sales pages. And yet the Booker’s informative announcement of how many Brits may have left the high street (or an online retail platform) with a given title is the exception, not the rule. Very rarely does an awards program return, as the Booker does, to report just what happened on the market after someone handed over the envelope, please.

The industry needs a lot more of this kind of follow-up to determine whether its contests are truly driving traffic or simply making an awards-weary readership’s eyes glaze right over.

Michele Cobb

The Audies have a lot of grace attached to them, not only because of Cobb’s research-savvy leadership but also because they style themselves in kinship to Hollywood–there’s some celebrity engagement in audiobooks, of course, usually in the annual choir of good narrators. And during the years of the still-ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, many have come to appreciate more, not less, the value of the audiobook format. This reporter might be one of them.

True, there are other awards programs that include one or two audio categories among their rosters, but the Audio Publishers Association serves a highly specialized professional membership, reflected in its phalanx of 25 categories, all in audio.

The Audies could help lead the way in demonstrating how much market value lies in the dense forest of book contests in this popular digital format far better than mixed-format awards programs could do.

And if the Audies followed up with post-prize data and other programs were prompted to follow suit, perhaps we’d begin to learn whether consumers really do know the difference between an Audie, a Costa, a Prix Goncourt, a Booker, a Baillie Gifford, a National Book Award, a Miles Franklin, a Governor General, a Ragazzi Award, and a Portico Prize. Do you know a Kraszna-Krausz from a Wolfson? Does a book buyer know an Aspen Words prize from a Rathbones Folio award? A Dylan Thomas from a Windham-Campbell? A Caldecott from a Newbery? A Batchelder from a Schneider? An Alex from a Morris? An IPAF from an EUPL? A Constelllation from a Banipal?  An Albertine from a Scotiabank Giller? A Christine from a Bollinger? A Polari from a Glass Bell? A Branford Boase from a Firecracker? A Betty Trask from a Paul Torday? The Nibbies from the Lambdas?

When we hear that beloved line And the winner is, is the winner the publishing industry? Or did the public stop listening 86 awards programs ago?

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 43rd publishing awards and/or book awards report published in the 45 days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.


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 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.com, 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.

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