At the Audio Publishers Association's annual Audie Awards, which marked a quarter century this year, a celebration of the night's winners was combined with a salute to the progress of the form over the past 25 years and more. The ceremony, held on March 2 at Guastavino's in Manhattan, was a packed house, and the event was seemingly unmarred by the growing concern over the new coronavirus outbreak. Instead, the mood was buoyant—a sign that those in the world of audiobooks, which continue to be the fastest-growing segment of the industry year after year, remain confident in the potential and influence of their sector.

"In the high school auditorium that is the publishing world, the audiobook people are sitting at the cool kids table, and the e-books people are begging them for lunch money," CBS Sunday Morning host Mo Rocca, the evening's emcee, joked. Rocca, who narrated the audio edition of his book, Mobituaries, last year, and now hosts a podcast of the same name, called the form more challenging than many give it credit for: "part storytelling, part acting, reading to an audience that's unseen." He noted, as many did after him, how the spoken word is an older form of storytelling than the written, saying that "Homer's work was intended to be heard, not read."

The big award, for Audiobook of the Year, went to The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff, narrated by a full cast with Holter Graham, published by Simon & Schuster Audio. It also won for multi-voiced performance. Other highlights included Michelle Obama's Becoming, narrated by the author, for autobiography/memoir (Penguin Random House Audio); Douglas Brinkley's American Moonshot, narrated by Stephen Graybill, for history/biography (HarperAudio); and Ta-Nehisi Coates's The Water Dancer, narrated by Joe Morton, for literary fiction and classics (Penguin Random House Audio).

In addition, Stephen King was given the APA's lifetime achievement award by his son, author Joe Hill, who took home his own award, for short stories/collections. "His passion for audiobooks goes back decades. I know. I was there," Hill said. "In 47 West Broadway, Bangor, Maine, stories were always in the air...and in the ear." Accepting the award, King joked: "it would make a hell of a murder weapon, wouldn't it?" He added: "I listen to my own books –the reason why is because you can hear everything you did right and everything you did wrong. This is the most honorable form of storytelling there is."

The full list of winners is as follows:

Audiobook of the Year
The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff, narrated by a full cast with Holter Graham (Simon & Schuster Audio)

Audio Drama
Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes by Tony Kushner, performed by Andrew Garfield, Nathan Lane, Susan Brown, Denise Gough, Beth Malone, James McArdle, Lee Pace, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Bobby Cannavale, and Edie Falco (Penguin Random House Audio)

Becoming, written and narrated by Michelle Obama (Penguin Random House Audio)

Best Female Narrator
Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson, narrated by Marin Ireland (HarperAudio)

Best Male Narrator
Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny, narrated by Robert Bathurst (Macmillan Audio)

Business/Personal Development
So You Want to Start a Podcast?, written and narrated by Kristen Meinzer (HarperAudio)

Faith-based Fiction and Nonfiction
How the Light Gets In by Jolina Petersheim, narrated by Tavia Gilbert (Oasis Audio)

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, narrated by January LaVoy (Hachette Audio)

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, narrated by Blair Brown (Penguin Random House Audio)

American Moonshot by Douglas Brinkley, narrated by Stephen Graybill (HarperAudio)

More Bedtime Stories for Cynics by Kirsten Kearse, Gretchen Enders, Aparna Nancherla, Cirocco Dunlap, and Dave Hill, narrated by Nick Offerman, Patrick Stewart, Alia Shawkat, Ellen Page, Jane Lynch, John Waters, Anjelica Huston, Wendell Pierce, Mike Birbiglia, Rachel Dratch, Matt Walsh, Nicole Byer, Harry Goaz, Aisling Bea, and Gary Anthony Williams (Audible Originals)

Literary Fiction and Classics
The Water Dancery by Ta-Nehisi Coates, narrated by Joe Morton (Penguin Random House Audio)

Middle Grade
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, narrated by Meryl Streep and a full cast (Penguin Random House Audio)

Multi-Voiced Performance
The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff, narrated by a full cast with Holter Graham (Simon & Schuster Audio)

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup, narrated by Peter Noble (HarperAudio)

Narration by Author or Authors
With the Fire on High, written and narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperAudio)

Grace Will Lead Us Home by Jennifer Berry Hawes, narrated by Karen Chilton and Jennifer Berry Hawes (Macmillan Audio)

Original Work
Evil Eye by Madhuri Shekar, narrated by Nick Choksi, Harsh Nayyar, Annapurna Sriram, Bernard White, and Rita Wolf (Audible Originals)

Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas, narrated by Mary Jane Wells (HarperAudio)

Science Fiction
Emergency Skin by N.K. Jemisin, narrated by Jason Isaacs (Brilliance Publishing)

Short Stories/Collections
Full Throttle by Joe Hill, narrated by Zachary Quinto, Wil Wheaton, Kate Mulgrew, Neil Gaiman, Ashleigh Cummings, Joe Hill, Laysla De Oliveira, Nate Corddry, Connor Jessup, Stephen Lang, and George Guidall (HarperAudio)

The Institute by Stephen King, narrated by Santino Fontana (Simon & Schuster Audio)

Young Adult
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, narrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Jeanne Birdsall, Richard Ferrone, Jenna Lamia, and a full cast (Scholastic Audio)

Young Listeners
The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! , written and narrated by Mo Willems (Weston Woods)