PROS / Recorded Books customer support is very helpful and prompt.
CONS / Recorded Books does not offer downloads.
VERDICT / If they were able to create a comprehensive collection of downloadable books they would be top of the line.
Recorded Books is one of the most famous brands names in the audiobooks genre. Unfortunately, their website doesn’t live up to the company’s usually impeccable reputation. You can purchase titles directly, but they do not have a rental program anymore. Although Recorded Books offers about 1,000 titles in fiction and non-fiction selections, they are, for the most part, only available in CD format. Recorded Books does not offer downloads to every mobile device, but it does have a software system that allows you to put ebooks onto your computer.
Recorded Books sometimes hires its own voice actors to narrate certain titles, which is unique among most services. However, do not get confused if you want a particular narrator, and be sure to check the narrator’s name before you commit to purchasing an audiobook. You do not have the option to listen to a sample, which makes the process of finding the right audiobook even more mystifying.
There are customer reviews on the site, but the site is not well-organized enough for them to look like they are important enough for you to read them. On many sites, when you put a word or title into the search engine, the engine’s findings will show up, and the customer ratings will appear right underneath the image of the book. On this site, the reviews and ratings are hidden on the audiobook’s page, as though the site does not want you to see them. Even though it’s a minor difference, it makes the site look a little less user-friendly.
You can search for titles using the search box by keyword, title, author and even narrator. They also offer 26 different genres to browse through. The genre selections aren’t quite as specific as some of the other services we reviewed; however they do include a few unusual selections like short stories, inspirational and parenting books. We did find that when you select to purchase or rent a book it is just placed into your cart without informing you so. It just seems the page kept refreshing over and over. Before we realized it there were half a dozen copies of the same title in the cart. It feels like a small programming glitch that needs to be looked into.
Recorded Books used to be an audiobook rental service, but now it is strictly for purchases. The audiobooks are offered at a deep discount in many cases, so if you listen to books at a pace of about one book per month, then this site’s offerings cost about as much as a rental service.
We did find that the customer support was very helpful. Our emails were answered in a matter of hours. There is also a phone line for customers to call during business hours, which had did not present any problems in service or waiting time. An FAQ section is also on the site, but it is not very extensive, so you should not rely entirely on that to figure out the rules of the service.
Recorded Books just doesn’t transcend the gap from book store to Internet. We feel if they were able to create a comprehensive collection of downloadable books they could really find a new fan base, outside the library.