New features have been added to the annual Audio Publishers Association Conference (APAC) in addition to the forums and seminars previously announced (Audio, Apr. 2). The keynote speaker for the APAC luncheon on May 31 will be Joe Kita, author of three nonfiction books, including Another Shot: How I Relived My Life in Less Than a Year (Random House Audio). The APA will also unveil the latest statistics on growth and demographics in the audiobook industry.

At the APAC luncheon, the APA will name the first recipients of the Audiobook Heroes Award, honoring people in and out of the audiobook industry who have shared their enthusiasm about audiobooks with others in the community. This year's recipients are Sam Backer and L.A. Theatre Works. Backer is a nine-year-old audiobook listener from California who launched an audiobook program at his local children's hospital. "My mom and I found generous publishers who were happy to donate children's audiobooks, headphones and cassette players," Backer said. "We then went to the children's rooms where we would lend them headphones and cassette players. After a week, they would return them and select others."

L.A. Theatre Works is a nonprofit organization that produces classic and contemporary theater on audio. Through a recent grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the company has been able to supply underserved libraries with copies five L.A. Theatre Works plays. In addition, it runs two outreach programs serving children and schools across the country. The Arts & Children Project recruits professional artists for residency programs. More than 50,000 at-risk children in juvenile detention centers have participated in this program to date. The second program, Alive & Aloud, is an educational outreach program. Audio recordings of plays and instructional study guides are given to public secondary schools nationwide.

On Friday, June 1, the evening following APAC, the organization will showcase the annual Audie Awards in a ceremony at the Art Institute of Chicago. Narrators Martin Jarvis and Rosalind Ayres will host the event.

On June 2, BEA and the APA will jointly sponsor the first-ever Audiobook Tea at BEA. Authors Robert Crais, Jacquelyn Mitchard, Bill O'Reilly and James Patterson will discuss their audiobook experiences.

For the annual June Is Audiobook Month promotional campaign, the APA will distribute 200,000 sampler cassettes, 100,000 CDs and thousands of Audiobook Month posters to libraries and bookstores. The sampler is also available as a streaming audio on the APA Web site at The streaming audio will also be featured on, B& and