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Increasing the Functionality of Recorded Books' Proprietary Application

Publishing | Application Development

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Audio book distributor Recorded Books required support refining its existing application that was designed to digitize audio books. The client hired TEKsystems to deliver the technical support necessary to enhance the functionality of its application in order to ultimately increase its market share.

Client Profile

Founded in 1979, Recorded Books is responsible for the publishing and distribution of English and Spanish audio books, educational lectures, independent films and other audio products. Its customer base includes libraries, educational institutions and end consumers. Recorded Books has partnered with TEKsystems since 2009.

Industry Landscape

Digital media is in high demand among consumers and businesses alike. With the rise of mobile and tablet devices, users expect only the most cutting-edge applications, and providers are forced to compete to stay relevant and deliver the best end-user experience possible. Organizations need to be agile and respond to technology advances by ensuring their product offerings are aligned with user demands, interests and expectations. They need to strategize and plan in order to keep pace with what customers want or risk falling behind competitors.

Consider e-books. The digitization of books has gained in popularity, forcing publishers to release e-books in coordination with print releases. And users expect enhanced functionality from their e-readers.

By accommodating the increasing demand for digital media with optimized functionality, businesses can gain a competitive advantage and maintain a leadership position in their industry.

Skill Sets Provided

Adobe Content Server,Amazon S3 with CloudFront,E-reader software,Sitecore,Solr,SQL Server Management Studio,Static analysis,Visual Studio 2010


Audio book publisher and distributor Recorded Books sought to develop and strengthen its proprietary Web portal to provide its customers (e.g., library systems) subscription-based or single-use title purchasing options for audio books as well as added functionality for e-books. With its competitors already offering their patrons these capabilities, Recorded Books aimed to maintain and expand its market share by enhancing its existing portal.

Recorded Books attempted to write the code in-house but found that some of the functionality and logic was not working as intended. The existing code would need to be rewritten or refactored to enable proper communication and interaction between the code factors and the website itself. Rearchitecturing the code would help Recorded Books achieve the logic and functionality needed for e-books.

Based on this, Recorded Books required a partner with technical expertise to support the enhancement of the current portal and properly enable e-book subscriptions and single-use titles purchases. The partner also needed to support the integration of Adobe Content Server on the client’s portal.


Recorded Books sought a partner to support the refining and enhancements of its portal. To start, TEKsystems would host a collaborative kickoff meeting with the client. During this meeting, we would review and align on the scope of the project. We would build out the project management plan, review risks and contingencies, highlight responsibilities and walk through the next steps of this program. A formal kickoff would ensure that both TEKsystems and Recorded Books were on the same page and that the client’s expectations were set and effectively managed.

Next, TEKsystems would be responsible for performing key activities to improve the functionality of Recorded Books’ proprietary application. We would write unit tests, develop source code, integrate scripts into the build cycle and prepare the code for user acceptance testing (UAT). TEKsystems would also be responsible for tagging the client’s repository. To validate our approach, we would create a story backlog that would be tracked in JIRA and available to Recorded Books for the duration of the project. In addition to conducting daily status meetings with the client, TEKsystems would provide weekly and monthly status reports that highlight the activities completed and scheduled for the future weeks.

TEKsystems’ approach emphasized maintaining a solid partnership with Recorded Books throughout the engagement. The client recognized and appreciated our commitment to partnership and dedication to keeping them plugged into our activities and the overall process. Having worked with TEKsystems in the past—and given this engagement called for rapid technical support—Recorded Books selected TEKsystems because they knew we were capable of delivering quality value on time and were confident in our services.


Leveraging our Montreal Innovation Centre, TEKsystems assembled as many as nine resources to perform this engagement; the team included a project manager, delivery manager, business analysts and solution architects.

The client was under a tight timeline but still required buy-in, support and funding approval from senior leadership. Immediately upon being awarded this program, TEKsystems conducted an Inception phase where we spent the initial few weeks exploring the environment and preparing high-level documentation for Recorded Books’ leaders to review.

Once backed by leadership, TEKsystems refactored most of Recorded Books’ website from our MSC. We cleaned up the existing code and created a streamlined data model; the cleaned code is extensible, and Recorded Books now has a manageable code base for any future enhancements or refactoring. E-books and the new subscription model were successfully added.

As a result of TEKsystems’ partnership, the end-user experience is enhanced as the site is easier to navigate and more consistent. Previously, the client’s customers (e.g., library systems) would buy electronic books to lend or subscribe to collections of electronic books to lend. But each library had its own terms and conditions with regard to variables such as cost, duration and volume of circulations. With the new subscription model in place, the terms are standardized and consistent for the client’s customers. And Recorded Books realized cleaner and more manageable subscription and sales models.

Key Success Factors

TEKsystems made several key contributions that enabled us to be successful at Recorded Books:

Quality Resources

Recorded Books recognized the depth of skill and expertise present among our technical staff. Without the knowledge of our team, the project would not have been so successful. But it was not just the skillfulness of our resources that pleased Recorded Books; the client also noted how responsive our team was and appreciated the level of dedication and commitment we delivered from day one.


This was a true partnership, and success required cooperation and communication between both the client and our team. Throughout this project, TEKsystems maintained continued contact with Recorded Books. We ensured the client remained informed of our progress. We organized scheduled as well as impromptu meetings and we monitored and reported on our performance regularly. Our performance monitoring openly reported on items such as planned tasks accomplished and unaccomplished; unplanned tasks accomplished; tasks scheduled; milestone details; issues and escalations; weekly updated project plans; outstanding sign-offs and weekly burndown of hours.


From start to finish, we took on the role of a proactive partner. We worked with Recorded Books to flesh out the necessary documentation to obtain internal buy-in from leadership. Once the executive support was on board and we began to develop and enhance the portal, we maintained transparency and open partnership, ensuring the client was abreast of our activities and progress at all times.

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