This year's National Book Awards ceremony, which is typically a glittery black-tie ball held at Cipriani Wall Street in lower Manhattan, will instead be a virtual event, to be hosted online on Wednesday, November 18. The National Book Foundation, which administers the awards, made the decision as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

With the change, the Foundation is also taking its series of affiliated literary events, which traditionally take place over a single week leading up to the awards, online, and will spread them out over the months of October and November. The first event, 5 Under 35, which recognizes emerging fiction writers, will take place on Tuesday, October 20. The National Book Awards Finalist Reading will be on Tuesday, November 10, and feature readings from all 25 finalists’ books. In partnership with the Miami Book Fair, the Teen Press Conference will go live on Monday, November 16. The events will culminate with the 71st National Book Awards Ceremony on November 18.

"Though the medium is new, the entire Board and National Book Foundation staff remain committed to hosting a National Book Awards celebration that is a beacon of hope for all who attend—from our incredible judges and future finalists to readers everywhere—and one that maintains the high standards that have come to be associated with the Awards and the National Book Foundation,” said David Steinberger, chair of the board of directors of the Foundation.

Lisa Lucas, executive director of the Foundation, added: “The National Book Awards are a celebration of books and all the people who have a hand in forming them. As a country, and within the literary community, we have all experienced a shift in reality; yet through this collective uncertainty, we are dedicated to centering and elevating the work of writers who are grounding us and giving us the gift of their words. The ceremony in November is the time for doing so and we look forward to sharing it with all of you.”