Q&A: Jennifer Conner, Armchair Audies | May 15, 2013

Jennifer Conner of the book review blog literatehousewife.com spearheads the Armchair Audies, an audiobook listening challenge revolving around the Audies, the Audiobook Publishers Association’s annual awards for excellence in audiobooks. The 2013 Audies will be awarded May 30 in New York City.

What are the Armchair Audies? Who participates?

The Armchair Audies is an audiobook challenge in which bloggers listen to all of the titles nominated for the Audie in a single category and select the best one. There are so many categories and audiobooks nominated each year that focusing our attentions on one or possibly a few categories would help to make the awards more meaningful. One of our reviewers, Susie Sharp (misssusiesreading.blogspot.com), director of the Eddy–New Rockford Public Library, New Rockford, ND, wrote a post on her library’s blog about the Audie-nominated titles that patrons have access to via OverDrive (ow.ly/km07K).

We listen to and then review each of the titles nominated in our selected category. When we’ve finished them all, we rank them and nominate the best audiobook in that category. As reviews are posted and predictions are made, I update the Armchair Audies blog (armchairaudies.com).

The only major issue we have encountered along the way is availability. Either potential participants were unable to find or purchase all of the titles in their chosen category or those titles weren’t available for purchase/download in their country. This has continued into year two.

What is going to make our second year interesting is the number of categories for which we have more than one participant judging. While we still have the same number of total categories covered, we have quite a few that will be judged by a panel instead of by one blogger. It will be interesting to see how consensus is reached.

Are you still accepting predictions? Does one need to review every book in the category to participate?

We are definitely still accepting new listeners to join us. We would love to have new participants. The Armchair Audies website has posted the nominees in each of the categories with the exception of Audiobook of the Year. If you see a category you’d like to judge, feel free to contact me with any questions.

The way in which the nominees are reviewed varies by blogger. I think the only essential ingredients in an audiobook review are the merits of the narrator and the quality of the production if notable. In addition to writing individual reviews, participants generally write a wrap-up post to rank the titles and pick the best audiobook in that category. Only the wrap-up post is essential. If someone is interested in participating but does not have a blog, I will post their wrap-ups on the Armchair Audies website.

Are you judging any of the categories yourself? Do you have any early favorites?

I am judging the literary fiction category again this year. Since I’ve already listened to all five, I will share that this year’s race was much more competitive. Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, narrated by Simon Prebble, and Liz Moore’s Heft, narrated by Kirby Heyborne and Keith Szarabajka, are both excellent listens, but my choice for this year will be Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodiesnarrated by Simon Vance. Since I’m not judging this category alone, it remains to be seen which title will make it on our ballot. Stay tuned.—Stephanie Klose

Stephanie Klose About Stephanie Klose

Stephanie Klose (sklose@mediasourceinc.com, @sklose on Twitter) is Media Editor, Library Journal.