Before I begin my discussion, here were the Audie Award nominees for Audiobook of the Year:
American Grown by Michelle Obama and narrated by Michelle Obama and a full cast
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter and narrated by Edoardo Ballerini
The End of the Affair by Graham Greene and narrated by Colin Firth
Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard and narrated by Bill O’Reilly
There was a very interesting conversation about the Audies on Twitter yesterday. It was prompted by Susie’s post full of good questions. While that discussion did not alter my opinions on which of the audiobooks nominated in this category is the best, it did change the way I am thinking about this category. Based on what I learned, the road to get to an Audiobook of the Year nomination is long and full of documentation. This is a category about influence and advancement of the industry as a whole and sales and marketing data are key. I have no problem celebrating audiobooks that bring more listeners to the table. My issue is that this is the award, so the implication to me is that the winner of the Audiobook of the Year award is the best audiobook of the year. This award has a much different focus. It is for industry professionals and the hard work they put in to making an audiobook a success. They certainly deserve this award and I’m happy for all those who stand behind the titles nominated here. I hope they are celebrating.
My criteria for judging the Audiobook of the Year category is irrelevant. How am I to judge this category when I know nothing of the title’s sales figures or the work that went into marketing it? I feel the same way about this category as I do the Package Design category. I don’t have all of the information I need to make a determination. In this case, I don’t care about the determining factors either. When I select an audiobook, I don’t care if it has made a dollar or if it was properly marketed. What I’m looking for is a good story and production and narration that make it shine. If combined it grips me and won’t let me go until the closing credits, that makes it qualify as a candidate for audiobook of the year for me.
At the very least I’d like to expand the 2014 Armchair Audies to include a Best Audiobook of the Year category of our own. That would be relevant to me and I suspect it would interest other audiobook fans out there who aren’t concerned as much in the business aspect. We would be a category I’d be interested in judging. I don’t foresee myself paying as much attention to this category in the future.
If all other things are equal, my selection for Audiobook of the Year category is Beautiful Ruins. For all the hard work and pride I’m sure that went into each of the nominated titles, Edoardo Ballerini’s performance packed significantly more bang for the buck for me.