In New York, the Audie Awards 2023: Top Honor to Viola Davis

In News by Porter Anderson

The Audio Publishers Association names its 2023 Audie Awards winners in 26 categories, from Audio Drama to Young Listeners.

At the March 28 Audie Awards winners’ ceremony at Pier Sixty in New York City, a table with Guy Oldfield, Caroline Friend, and Rosamund Pike. Image: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audio Publishers Association

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

Male, Female Readers: Seth Numrich, Rosamund Pike
Drawn from one of the three most heavily laden shortlists we cover in international book and publishing contests—the other two being the British Book Awards and the PROSE awards in the academic arena—the Audio Publishers Association’s annual Audie Awards  overnight (March 28 into 29) have named their 2023 winners from a deep sea of 26 categories.

The program, held at Chelsea Piers’ Pier Sixty in New York City on Monday evening (March 28) was led by comedian Michelle Buteau.

One way that the Audies are like all but the United Kingdom’s Booker Prizes is in not providing the news media with insights into how their accolades move the audiobook sales needle (or don’t).

Following our listing here of the winners, you’ll find some details of that issue near the end of this article.

The 2023 Audie Awards’ ‘AudioBook of the Year’

Finding Me

  • Written and narrated by Viola Davis
  • Published by HarperAudio

The Audies’ “of the year” award is–as in so many book and publishing contests–a prize given to a title shortlisted and winning in a category. In this case, Viola Davis’ Finding Me won in the “Narrator [Reader] by Author”  category.

Audie Award 2023 Category Winners

Audio Drama

Pipeline

  • By Dominique Morisseau
  • Performed by Sophina Brown, Eugene Byrd, Demetrius Grosse, Sharon Lawrence, X Mayo, Uyoata Udi, and Karen Malina White
  • Published by LA Theatre Works

Autobiography and Memoir

Unprotected: A Memoir

  • Written and narrated by Billy Porter
  • Published by Recorded Books, a division of RBmedia

Female Narrator [Reader]

Rosamund Pike for The Eye of the World

  • By Robert Jordan
  • Published by Macmillan Audio

Male Narrator [Reader]

Seth Numrich for Fairy Tale

  • By Stephen King
  • Published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Business and Personal Development

Tough

  • Written and narrated by Terry Crews
  • Published by Penguin Random House Audio

Erotica

On the Hustle

  • By Adriana Herrera
  • Narrated by Lola James and Sean Crisden
  • Published by HarperAudio

Spanish Language

¡Primera caída! El enmascarado de terciopelo

  • By Diego Mejía Eguiluz
  • Narrated by Noé Velázquez
  • Published by Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial México

Faith-Based Fiction or Nonfiction

Dark Angel

  • By Brian Andrews and Jeffrey Wilson
  • Narrated by MacLeod Andrews
  • Published by Tyndale House Publishers

Fantasy

The Monsters We Defy

  • By Leslye Penelope
  • Narrated by Shayna Small
  • Published by Hachette Audio

Fiction

Mad Honey

  • By Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan
  • Narrated by Carrie Coon, Key Taw, Jodi Picoult, and Jennifer Finney Boylan
  • Published by Penguin Random House Audio

History and Biography

Summer of ’85

  • By Chris Morrow, Kevin Hart, Tara Thomas, Nicole Shelton, Charlamagne Tha God, Marc Gerald, Dave Becky, Mike Stein, Thai Randolph, Bryan Smiley, and Karen Kinney
  • Narrated by Kevin Hart
  • Published by Audible Originals

Humor 

Happy-Go-Lucky

  • Written and narrated by David Sedaris
  • Published by Hachette Audio

Literary Fiction and Classics

War and Peace

  • By Leo Tolstoy
  • Translated by Louise Maude and Aylmer Maude
  • Narrated by Thandiwe Newton
  • Published by Audible Studios

Middle Grade

Narrator/reader Guy Lockard celebrates the win for Jason Reynolds’ ‘Stuntboy’ on March 28 at the Audie Awards event in Manhattan. Image: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audio Publishers Association

Stuntboy, in the Meantime

  • By Jason Reynolds
  • Narrated by Guy Lockard, Nile Bullock, Angel Pean, James Fouhey, Soneela Nankani, Leon Nixon, Chanté McCormick, Lamarr Gulley, and DePre Owens
  • Published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Multi-Voiced Performance

Sparring Partners

  • By John Grisham
  • Narrated by Jeff Daniels, Ethan Hawke, January LaVoy, and John Grisham
  • Published by Penguin Random House Audio

Mystery

The Heron

  • By Don Winslow
  • Narrated by Ed Harris
  • Published by Audible Originals

Narration [Reading] by the Author(s)

Finding Me

  • Written and narrated by Viola Davis
  • Published by HarperAudio

Nonfiction

The Ransomware Hunting Team

  • By Renee Dudley and Daniel Golden
  • Narrated by BD Wong
  • Published by Macmillan Audio

Original Work

Mrs. Wickham

  • By Sarah Page
  • Narrated by Jessie Buckley, Johnny Flynn, and a full cast
  • Published by Audible Originals

Romance

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care

  • By Ashley Herring Blake
  • Narrated by Kristen DiMercurio
  • Published by Penguin Random House Audio

Science-Fiction

Intergalactic Exterminators, Inc

  • By Ash Bishop
  • Narrated by Scott Brick and Suzanne Elise Freeman
  • Published by CamCat Books

Short Stories and Collections

Getaway

  • By Sally Hepworth, Zakiya Dalila Harris, Catherine Steadman, Luanne Rice, Jess Lourey, and Rumaan Alam
  • Narrated by Candice Moll, Shayna Small, Samara Naeymi, Jennifer Jill Araya, Carly Robins, and Fajer Al-Kaisi
  • Published by Brilliance Publishing

Thriller and Suspense

Greenwich Park

  • By Katherine Faulkner
  • Narrated by Laura Kirman
  • Published by Simon & Schuster Audio

Young Adult

Demon in the Wood Graphic Novel

  • By Leigh Bardugo
  • Narrated by Ben Barnes, Benjamin Valic, Cassandra Morris, Eason Rytter, James Fouhey, Mary McCartney, Matt Leisy, Salli Saffioti, Sean Gormley, and Tom Bromhead
  • Published by Macmillan Audio

Young Listeners

A Door Made for Me

  • Written and narrated by Tyler Merritt
  • Published by Hachette Audio

Host Michelle Buteau at the March 28 at the Audie Awards event in Manhattan. Image: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Audio Publishers Association


Commentary: The Audies’ Special Potential

Many prize organizers in the world’s books and publishing industry essentially run out of the room when they’re asked how their awards actually affect winners’ penetration into markets now besieged with challenges to the time and money of streamer-subscribed customers.

Do these prizes really sell books?

With the exception of the Booker Foundation’s prizes in London, it simply is not reported what impact a win has had had on press runs and sales response. A good motto for the book publishing industry in this regard, then, is In Golden Stickers We Trust –with little if any actual proof of whether the glint of that sticky gold has any currency at all in the attention economy.

Realizing that many in the industry have not engaged in this discussion yet, we’ll give you a short example of the kind of information that every book and/or publishing award program could be producing, following an announcement of its winners. We’Sales ve adapted this from our report on March 14 of the International Booker Prize’s 2023 longlist:

What Is a Booker Win Worth? From 473 UK Copies to 30,000

The Booker Prize Foundation has distinguished itself as the only major prize organization based in the English language that regularly reports indications of its impact on book sales. Put another way, the Booker’s is the only “golden sticker” with proven value in bookstores.

Booker Prize Sales Impact: Industry Statistics

Last year’s winner, Tomb of Sand, written by Geetanjali Shree and translated from Hindi by Daisy Rockwell, saw its UK edition, which initially sold “473 copies in the first six months after publication, increase to more than 5,000 copies between the [Booker] longlist announcement in February and the end of May 2022.

“In the nine months since its win on May 26, Tomb of Sand has sold a further 25,000 copies, making it the biggest seller of its publisher, Tilted Axis.

“Rights have been sold in a dozen languages and a United States edition was recently published by HarperVia.”

The Audies: Listening for Data on Their Sales Impact

The point to be made here today (March 29) is about reporting to the industry (and the public) just what kind of effect may accrue to the many winning audiobooks named by the jurors of the annual Audie Awards.

Like the Booker, the Audies are at the top of the awards programs in their format. No other prize regime approaches the focus and scope of the Audies in audiobook accolades. Theirs, then, is a unique position, which carries–as the Booker folks clearly know–responsibility.

There is a strong rationale, then, for the Audies to lead the way, as the Booker does in literary fiction and translation, in providing information to the news media and thus to consumers and the industry, weeks or months from now, on what kind of sales response followed the naming of its many 2023 winners.

Publishing Perspectives understands that many in professional publishing, while slow to say so in public, would like to see such contests in the industry, including the Audie Awards, join the Booker in regularly making such reports, at whatever time interval the program’s organizers find is practical for the collection of the data.

The unavoidable truth is that when so many competitions decline to make such reports, the assumption is that they’re having no effect on sales. Allowing that assumption to persist by reporting no numbers is weakening the rationale for so many book and publishing contests. Until such information is provided, the plethora of awards programs–usually based in such unsubstantiated assertions as “they help sell books”– is founded on no more than happy-talk assumptions.


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.

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.com, 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.