2024 State of Hardcover Survey Results

Adam FortunaAvatar for Adam Fortuna

By Adam Fortuna

6 min read

One of my favorite parts of Hardcover is hearing feedback and formulating a plan from it. All feedback – no matter how difficult to hear – is helpful if it’s coming from a good place. Our 2024 State of Hardcover Survey recently wrapped up and we’ve spent the last week or two analyzing the results for themes.

I’m grateful for the 88 members (19 of which are supporters) who completed the survey! It’s thanks to feedback like this that we’re able to plan a course ahead that takes into account what people want.

I’m excited to share some of the results and some takeways on what we’re hoping to work on next!

Who Filled Out the Survey?

We had 88 responses (19 supporters, 69 free) complete the survey.

Of those the main reason why readers joined Hardcover was they were looking for an alternative to Goodreads (no surprise there), they’re looking for a way to track what they read and the user interface drew them in (🙌).

More than half the respondants (53) use Hardcover at least once a week. That fits what what we’ve heard from readers. Readers tend to visit us when the hear about a book, start a book, finish a book or make progress (although our feature set for the last one is somewhat limited).

When it comes time to upgrade to a Supporter, most readers do it not because of features we’ve built, but to help Hardcover become what it could be. This matches what I expected. We have somewhat minimal features in our Supporter Plan today. We’ve opted to give most features away for free – both because GR/SG do, and because, well, I want people to be happy. ♥️ In the future we might create more paid-specific features, but so far that hasn’t been our primary focus – which shows in the survey results.

The main reasons why people haven’t upgraded are there isn’t a compelling feature that’s drawing them to do so, they’re still too new to the site or they just don’t have the cash/capacity/budget for year another subscription.

Hardcover readers tend to read ebooks and physical books as their primary format more so than audiobooks. I was surprised to see audiobooks this far down.

Kindle remained the device of choice, with other e-readers far below.

When it comes to reading, most people spend a around an hour a day – give or take. I think next time I’ll switch this question to be day-based rather than week-based.

Reading Problems

One question we asked was “How often have you run into these reading-related problems and not had a solution you were happy with?

Looking back this wasn’t the best framing of this question. I think the results are still interesting!

If the results of this were “tracking what you” as a top result, that would mean we’d failed at our biggest focus. Luckily it wasn’t. 😅

The top two results were the only ones that had a positive weighted rating (which means that more people had the problem than not).

  • 1. Finding good personalized recommendations (42 points)
  • 2. Deciding on which next book to read (24 points)

The way people find recommendations is split across many factors. There’s no shortage of places to find books recommendations, but figuring out how those recommendations relate back to you specifically is tough! That’s one reason why the most important factor readers use when deciding what to read are friends suggestions, ratings and reviews.

This leads me to think how we can better leverage friends suggestions on Hardcover. 🤔

What Should We Work on Next?

This was the big question we wanted help with. We hear what people want from Hardcover across many different places – Discord, interviews, our public Feature Request board, and us working on it with our own goals (helping readers find life-changing books).

There were two questions from the survey that helped with this the most.

We listed 17 different features we were curious about and readers would choose their three top ones. The top 5 from that included the following:

  1. A dashboard that shows an overview (ex: Currently reading, your goals, current stats, friends activity)
  2. Find better book recommendations (ex: genre specific recommendations, similar to a book)
  3. Be notified of upcoming book releases (ex: Notifications for the books on your Want to Read list, or next in Series)
  4. Advanced stats and graphs (ex: author demographics, list stats, more graphs)
  5. Smart lists based on saved filters (ex: Status: Want to Read + Genre: Fantasy)

Here are the full results if you’re curious.

Ste suggested the Dashboard concept, and we’ve been talking about it some on Discord as an alternative to the Feed. Is there something you’d like to see on a Dashboard, let us know in this 3 question survey!

Book recommendations, release notifications, advanced stats and smart lists are all features it makes sense for us to do at some point. This helped us prioritize the order we work on these.

New features are one part of this. We also asked: If you could ask us create or change one thing about Hardcover, what would it be?

Since this question was free response, it’s less useful for figuring out next features, and more for understanding problems today.

  • 25% mentioned wanting user interface improvements
  • 13% mentioned bugs and issues
  • 10% mentioned wanting more community-focused featured

I heard you on these. Since the survey went out, we’ve focused on bugs. We’ve seen a large dropoff of bugs since then, but we still have a ways to go.

Ste is taking the lead some user interface updates and normalization. We want the entire site to have a consistent look and feel.

“Improving UI” is something that comes with time. Often we hear the same questions and feedback over and over – which shines a bright light on areas in need of attention. Some of these include the profile page, showing current progress, changing the start page (to a dashboard?), and using the book page style elsewhere (author page, lists, profile, etc).

So, What’s Next?

Right now we’re focused on fixing bugs, normalizing the user interface and improving librarian tools to make it easier to make changes and know what books are missing data. We didn’t specifically ask about librarian features in the survey, but creating those tools allows us to distribute work across a team of amazing librarians – rather than relying on Jeff and I to handle very data issue.

One thing that’s bug and ui related: creating a native iOS app! This isn’t a short term project, but something I’d love to do. I’ve been learning Swift development lately, and we’ve started work on this. This won’t be our top priority since we have an iOS app, but we want to make progress on it. This will let us completely reimagine the app to be much more Letterbox-like for the app, while the website can be it’s own thing.

We’re planning to create some kind of dashboard as an alternative to the feed. This will be a relatively small project, but I’m excited to create something that’s an alternative to the feed. Help us prioritize what to show on it!

Beyond that we want to focus much more on book discovery. We’re in a unique position where we can leverage your social graph and your reading history to suggest books, but also provide so many other ways to explore and stumble on new books.

I imagine the coziest bookstore I can imagine. You can’t go a few steps without seeing a card recommending a book on a shelf, seeing an inviting collection of covers, or being invited to check out a new story.

Creating that warm feeling, while helping you find life-changing books is our north star.

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