Monday, February 13, 2017

Interview With Audie Awards Competition Chairperson Janet Benson

Have you heard a good book lately?

The Audio Publishers Association announced its Audie Awards® finalists in 26 categories. The 22nd annual Audie Awards® competition, the premier awards program in the United States recognizing distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment, will reveal its winner on June 1, 2017, at the French Institute Alliance Fran├žaise in New York City. For the second year in a row, award-winning comedian, author, and commentator Paula Poundstone will emcee the event.

"This year has shown another increase in both the number and quality of submissions which mirrors the continued year-over-year growth and interest in audiobooks," says APA President Linda Lee.  "We are excited to have Paula Poundstone back to emcee our festivities this year, which again promises to be a rollicking good time celebrating the best-of-the best in our vibrant industry!"

"Every year our judges' mission is to select the best, and every year they moan to me over how hard that is," adds Janet Benson, Audie Awards® Competition Chair. "Audiobooks have definitely arrived - if you're not listening to one right now, what are you waiting for? The quality titles on this list are a great place to start!"

Through the Audie Awards® competition, publishers enter titles in various categories for recognition of excellence. Finalists are selected by a diverse group of experienced judges and one winner is awarded the Audie in each category.  For more information and to see a list of all of the nominees, visit

Here’s an interview with the awards chairwoman, Janet Benson:

1. How have the Audie Awards grown over the years?  We've grown in the number of submissions - we had double the number of entries this year compared to 10 years ago. And judges who have served for years tell me how the quality of all the entries has really improved.

2. Any surprises in the list of finalists?  No, and even if there were, would it be diplomatic of me to point them out?

3. Why do you believe audiobooks are growing in popularity? Book lovers are looking for more ways to fit their reading in with the rest of their busy lives. Audiobooks are a natural aid for that, transforming obligatory tasks like commuting, exercising, and cleaning by adding in the pleasures of reading.

4. People always say the book is better than the movie. Is the audiobook better than the book? Why? The audiobook can be better than the book, because audiobooks add another aspect - performance. I've read and listened to books where the narrator amplified the author's words and made them shine. The finalists on this list are proud examples of that.

5. How is the APA supporting the efforts of publishers seeking to grow and expand their audiobook servings? The APA strives to increase public awareness of audiobooks, building the market for publishers. We recently completed a major social media campaign #loveaudiobooks, where authors talked about why they love the format, and we did a big social media reveal for The 2017 Audie Awards Finalists that got over 28 million impressions in the first two days!

6. What is new in audiobooks today? How are they different than even five years ago?  More, more, more!  Every publisher is producing more to meet the growing demand for the format.  There are fewer and fewer titles not produced in audio, which brings more listeners into the fold every day.

7. Who will emcee the awards ceremony this June 1? Do you think eventually the awards ceremony can get more attention, maybe get broadcast on television or radio?  We've engaged Paula Poundstone, who was a big hit at last year's Audies Gala in Chicago. Back in New York City, we're giving her an even bigger audience. She's an avid fan of audiobooks, and a lot of fun. We're planning a livestream again this year… who knows what the future will bring?

8. Which genres are best suited for audiobooks? Why?  There are very few genres NOT suited to audiobooks - imagine a book with lots of charts and figures and that's about the worst. Stories of all kinds are great to listen to - takes us back to our childhoods and being read to. And nonfiction comes alive with a narrator - I'll listen to histories and biographies that I might get bogged down by reading.

9. What percentage of Americans listened to at least one audiobook last year? What would inspire more people listen to one?
According to our 2015 Consumer Survey, 41% of Americans had listened to an audiobook in the past 12 months.    We know from talking to our listeners that once they hear one, they come back for more. Recommendations from friends, a review that comments on extra content on an audiobook are both powerful tools for bringing in more listeners.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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