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Two Awards for Naxos AudioBooks at

The Spoken Word Awards

London 2005

Naxos AudioBooks won two awards at the annual award ceremony run by the UK's Audio Publishing Association. For the second time in four years, it scooped one of the key awards - Publisher of the Year - and Aled Jones, the charismatic reader of The Story of Classical Music won The Radio Times Readers' Choice Award.

"The Publisher of the Year award is one of the toughest to win - especially for an independent company like Naxos AudioBooks," said founder and MD Nicolas Soames. "We are up against all the big labels with their considerable resources in terms of books and distribution, and in the best tradition of the indies we have to be inventive and light on our toes."

He added: I was particularly pleased because this was the second time in only four years that we have been selected for this award - we were also Publisher of the Year in 2001. This year was, I am sure, recognition of some important recent recordings, including the unabridged Ulysses, read by Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan, The Story of Classical Music by Darren Henley read by Aled Jones for UK release, and The Tempest starring Ian McKellen, directed by John Tydeman.

The awards were unveiled at the Curzon Cinema, Mayfair and presented by the veteran BBC TV reporter John Sergeant. The judging panel drew on a strong core of audiobook people, including retailers, reviewers and many others closely involved in the industry.

Introducing the Publisher of the Year, Sergeant acknowledged the qualities of innovation and consistent high standards that Naxos AudioBooks exhibited in many of its recordings.

"We try to look at each recording with fresh eyes,"said Soames. "Sometimes we can add extra dimensions with the careful, judicious use of music; sometimes it is about adding a CD-ROM element, as with Ulysses and The Story of Classical Music in particular; but sometimes it is just getting the basics right - good, imaginative readers presenting great classic texts in good sound, with elegant packaging and accompanying notes."

Naxos AudioBooks has led the way in recent months with the new element of extras on CD-ROM. This, as well as affirmation by reviewers in newspapers and on radio, has helped to build a loyal audience.

Success in The Radio Times Readers' Choice Award came as a bit of a surprise. The Radio Times - the leading UK TV and radio listings magazine – ran a full page of twenty audiobooks, and the readers were asked to vote by phone for their choice. Aled Jones and The Story of Classical Music, a 4-CD set presenting music from Gregorian chant to the present day, has proved one of the most popular releases in the Naxos AudioBooks catalogue. Yet it was still up against strong BBC opposition such as Michael Palin and Alan Bennett, and the fact that the Radio Times readers chose Aled says much for the recording and his own popularity.

"Reading The Story of Classical Music was a real challenge for me," said Aled. "In recent years I have done a lot of broadcasting and I have learned of the power of the voice itself, presented without music. When it is just your voice, without music or a backing track, you have to produce all the colour, the energy and the passion - and that was what I was trying to do with this recording. And I was helped by the script and the subject matter!"

The Award augurs well for Aled’s latest Naxos AudioBooks recording, Famous Composers, written by Darren Henley, which tells in even more detail and with more illustrative music, the lives of Vivaldi, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Dvorak and Shostakovich. It is a 2-CD set that is released in October and also has an innovative CD-ROM.

Aled also has another recording out in September – Moses and other stories from the Old Testament, a 2-CD set in the Junior Classics series.


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