Audiobook of the Year

Winner - The Testaments

The Testaments

Margaret Atwood

Penguin Random House Audio

The casting for this audiobook was dubbed “clever” and “inspired” by the judges for this category. The Testaments audiobook starred Ann Dowd, Bryce Dallas Howard and Mae Whitman voicing the three protagonists. The casting of Dowd, who plays Aunt Lydia in “The Handmaid’s Tale” television series, cleverly brought in the series-watching audience, while the other big names also attracted new listeners. Atwood herself voiced an introduction to the audiobook. One judge felt this added a “real magic” to the book as the somewhat private author welcomed readers back to the story, after almost 30 years had passed since The Handmaid’s Tale. Alongside the casting, the marketing strategy looked to introduce the audiobook to non-readers. The targeted cinema advertising was “smart” and brought “broad commercial appeal” to the title, said the judges. And it paid off: The Testaments became the fastest-selling Penguin Random House audiobook ever—both in the UK and globally. Ultimately, this is an audiobook that seems to have been “treated as an equal to the book itself—not a derivative, nor a competitor, or an alternative; it is a different thing of equal value.” The judges felt that “many audiobooks could learn from this superb production”. 

The Shortlist

  • My Sister, The Serial Killer
    Oyinkan Braithwaite (W F Howes)
    Featuring British-Nigerian actress Weruche Opia throughout, this release really brought Oyinkan Braithewaite’s two distinct protagonists to life. Opia’s narration was praised as “vibrant” and “fresh” by one reviewer.
  • The Testaments
    Margaret Atwood (Penguin Random House Audio)
    This is the fastest-selling Penguin Random House audiobook ever, not just in the UK, but globally. The campaign focused on narrator events, which really engaged fans of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and brand as a whole.
  • The Handmaid's Tale
    Margaret Atwood (Penguin Random House Audio)
    With a goal to revamp the original audiobook ahead of the release of The Testaments , this was PRH’s first audio-only publication and marketing campaign. The narration was atmospheric thanks to the TV series’ Elisabeth Moss.
  • Gotta Get Theroux This
    Louis Theroux (Macmillan)
    The author’s distinct voice made this a standout audiobook of 2019, selling over 55,000 copies digitally. A big selling point was the additional chapter on one of Louis Theroux’s most controversial and intriguing subjects: Jimmy Savile.
  • The Beekeeper of Aleppo
    Christy Lefteri (Bonnier Books)
    Christy Lefteri’s protagonist Nuri has experienced the horrors of the Syrian War, but this is a story of hope. Art Malik was the perfect narrator, with the necessary emotive range for such a sensitive story.
  • The Madness of Crowds
    Douglas Murray (Bloomsbury)
    There was a wide calling for Murray to narrate his second audiobook, and as a leading voice in political and sociological discourse, the choice brought authenticity to the subject. Murray’s hard work paid off, as 40,000 copies were sold in four months.
  • The Body
    Bill Bryson (Audible)
    Narrated by Bill Bryson, this release features exclusive audio content—appropriately, an additional chapter all about the ear and hearing. The narrator’s “gentle, humorous and intelligent” voice added another level to the narrative.
  • The Secret Commonwealth
    The Secret Commonwealth Philip Pullman (Penguin Random House Audio)
    This was PRH’s biggest ever children’s audiobook. It is also the second time that Michael Sheen has brought Philip Pullman’s work to life, having previously won a Nibbie for the La Belle Sauvage audiobook in 2018.