Audible founder Don Katz to be honored by PEN America

NEW YORK – The founder of Audible Inc., a leading force in the booming audiobook industry, will be honored in May at PEN America’s annual gala.

Don Katz has been named the literary and human rights organization’s Business Visionary Honoree for “his transformative contributions to the world of literature and audio storytelling.”

Katz founded Audible in 1995 and guided it through a time of extraordinary growth and change, with digital technology helping audiobooks become one of publishing’s most profitable and imaginative formats. Audible, purchased by Amazon.com in 2008, is both a top distributor and producer of audio works, including audio-only releases by Robert Caro, Yo-Yo Ma and James Taylor.

The 70-year-old Katz is also an award-winning author and journalist whose “Home Fires: An Intimate Portrait of One Middle-Class Family in Postwar America” was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992.

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“Don Katz’s unwavering devotion to the written and spoken word has revolutionized the form that merges them,” PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said in a statement Friday. “The breadth of voices to which Audible has provided a platform, and the ease and immediacy with which its inventions have allowed listeners to access works both canonical and obscure, unite Don’s vision with PEN America and our tireless protection of expression from powers that seek to hide it away from view and out of earshot.”

The PEN gala is scheduled to be held in person on May 23 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Audible helps sponsor another PEN prize — the PEN/Audible Literary Service Award, given last year to Henry Louis Gates Jr.

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