The National Book Foundation will not hold its planned limited in-person National Book Awards ceremony on November 17, opting instead for a virtual ceremony as new variants of the coronavirus continue to spread. Really Useful Media, which produced the virtual 2020 National Book Awards ceremony, will once again partner with the Foundation on the event, which will be broadcast on the Foundation's website, YouTube, and Facebook. The NBF had announced in late July it's intention to hold the ceremony in its traditional cite, New York City's Cipriani Wall Street.

“Although we were cautiously optimistic about the opportunity to gather, the National Book Foundation Board and staff have carefully considered the options for this year’s National Book Awards and closely monitored best health and safety practices associated with COVID-19, especially the news surrounding the Delta variant,” David Steinberger, chair of the Foundation's board of directors, said in a statement. “The National Book Awards have always been a unique—and sizeable—event, with authors, publishers, and guests traveling from all over the country to attend. Given the current reality of the ongoing global pandemic, this year’s National Book Awards Ceremony will be a fully virtual event to best protect the health and safety of the book community.”

The National Book Awards finalist reading, held in partnership with the New School in New York, will be held virtually as well, on November 9, and will feature readings by all 25 finalists. The 5 Under 35 ceremony, which will now be held every spring, will honor two years of emerging fiction writers at a combined in-person ceremony next spring.

“With thanks to our judges’ efforts during yet another difficult year, we have a new list of 50 books to uplift, inspire, and challenge us,” Ruth Dickey, the executive director of the Foundation, said in a statement. “The National Book Awards are a chance to honor books, reading, and the broad community of book lovers. We have all had to adapt and change over the past eighteen months, and books continue to provide a sense of comfort and connection, opening the world to us all even during these uncertain times.”