Hardcover Report for February 2024

Adam FortunaAvatar for Adam Fortuna

By Adam Fortuna

10 min read

Hi book friends!

I hope your 2024 is off to a good start. Getting back into a routine after taking a break can be rough. Momentum builds more momentum, and January can feel like a snowball at the top of a mountain.

I tend to put more pressure on myself during the beginning of the year. I want to start the year off on the right track, and that means getting outside of my comfort zone, adjusting or creating new routines and trying to do better.

When I feel that way I often end up journaling to understand why. I’ll ask myself questions and just start writing. Every single time I’ve done this I’ve felt better.

However you checkin with yourself, I hope you’re having a great start to your year. 🤗

On the personal side, January was a busy one. I’m fortunate to live in Salt Lake City a few blocks away from a Sundance Film Festival venue. Each year my wife and I volunteer (and try to watch as many movies as possible).

The Q&A after Your Monster was great – with an all woman directing and producing team

My two favorite movies this year were It’s What’s Inside and Your Monster.

It’s What’s Inside is a sexy thriller about a group of friends who meetup years after college the night before one of them is set to be married. A friend they haven’t seen in years shows up with a mysterious suitcase. I’d encourage you not to read anything else about it. It was acquired by Netflix and should be available later this year.

Your Monster is the horror musical romantic comedy I didn’t know I needed. The Letterboxd description does a better job than I could: After her life falls apart, soft-spoken actress Laura Franco finds her voice again when she meets a terrifying, yet weirdly charming, monster living in her closet. I laughed more for this than anything else I’ve seen in a while. No word yet on distribution, but the producers want it to be shown in theaters. 🤞

What’s New On Hardcover?

Usually January feels like a month where I go all out after a new year – only to exhaust myself and find a more balanced schedule going forward. This year the combination of working throughout December and taking a week break to go to Sundance meant that January felt a lot more like a typical December for me.

In other words, I’m feeling refreshed and ready to tackle whatever’s next! 💪 Here’s a look at last month and next month.

☑️ The State of Hardcover Survey

At least once a year we conduct a survey of our readers to help us understand what’s working, what’s not and what we could be doing differently. We take in a bunch of feedback from the community already. Discord chats, interviews with readers, our public Feature Request board, usage data, bug data and more all help us decide where to focus our attention.

This years State of Hardcover survey will help us sort through all of this feedback and decide what to prioritize this year.

The survey should take about 10 minutes and only contains a few free response questions.

👉 Fill out the State of Hardcover 2024 Survey 👈

As a thank you for completing this survey, we’ll randomly select 10 people to send a Hardcover Bookmark and Sticker pack as a thank you. 🥳

Sticker and bookmark pack
We’re ordering ones with our new logo, but they’ll look something like this.

Last year our survey was sent out to 1,000 members and we received about 30 responses. This year we’re sending the survey out to 6,000 members (!) AND doing a giveaway. I’m entirely too excited to see the results.

We’ll publish the takeaways from the survey on our blog sometime in February, and also re-share the results in next months Hardcover Report.

📆 The 2023 Year in Books

In case you missed it, we released The Hardcover 2023 Year in Books at the end December. We think this is a great way to find books you might have missed last year. To see what was popular last year on Hardcover, check it out.

🔴 Hardcover Live

One thing we haven’t cracked yet is how to leverage social media to drive a lot of traffic. It’s made me respect successful social media strategists that much more. 😂

Rather than continuing to shout into the social media void (and stay off X altogether), we’ve shifted our efforts to Hardcover Live, our weekly live show where we build Hardcover in public.

In January we recorded five episodes, and even turned those recordings into a podcast! The podcast version contains the same content as the videos, so choose whatever format works for your schedule.

Each episode is available on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify Podcasts and more – just search for “Hardcover Live”.

If you’d like to tune in live, we record every Wednesday at 12pm PST on YouTube Live, Twitch and with chat on Riverside.

If you’re an author, a book influencer or are creating something cool in the book space and would be interested in being a guest, please reach out to me (adam at hardcover.app).

📆 Dates Read Improvement

Most readers on Hardcover track the dates they start and finish their books. We’ve improved this process with a date picker that’s accessible from the Book Button and from the Book Page.

Unlike date pickers on hotel websites, ours needs to allow for a start date, an end date or both. Perhaps you know when you finished a book but not when you started it. This date picker takes all of that into account and allows for setting either or both.

You can now set dates read from the Book Button, the Book Page and to the Book Review Page – all situations where you might want to set your dates read.

📚 Librarian Improvements

If you ever wonder why it’s so difficult to knock Goodreads off it’s pedestal, you might immediately go to the size of the network, or their overwhelming dominance in search results. Another major factor: book data. And for good book data you need a combination of great automated processes and a team of librarians.

This month we’ve done a few things that make being a Librarian easier – whether you’re officially one or you’re a casual Hardcover user and want to help out.

📘 We added the ability to create new books manually. Before we only supported adding books with an ISBNs or a Goodreads ID. Now you can add any book you want. Added books won’t show up in search until a Librarian approves them, but you can use them immediately.

➕ Similarly, we added the ability to add new editions to a book. This was a huge gap that made it difficult to get the exact edition you’ve read.

📢 Book reviews now have a sponsored field that indicates if the reader was compensated in some way. This could be an Advanced Review Copy (ARC) or a paid promotion.

🗃️ We’ve added the ASIN field to editions. This is helpful for importers as well, since sometimes we might only have the ASIN and want to match it with a book in our system.

🧙‍♀️ We’ve made it easier to apply as a librarian now with this nifty form Ste created. If you’re editing a book and you don’t have access, you’ll see a link to apply. We accept most applicants that have a bunch of books in their library and look like they have used Hardcover long enough to understand how it works.

🔐 If you mark a book, author or series as a duplicate, or change the book for an edition, we consider that a destructive action that requires additional access. Previously, only Jeff and I could approve those changes. This month we added a concept of an access level to all librarians. If the impact of your change (how big an effect the change will have) is less than your access level, we make your change immediately. This allows Librarians to have more control, while requiring less work from Jeff & I.

What’s Next on Hardcover?

This months focus has been on Librarian changes. There are still a few things on that list to tackle before jumping into anything else new.

Hardcover 2024 Roadmap

Last month we shared our 2024 Roadmap which shows the first few areas we’re working on: Librarian Tools, Lists and Mobile Improvements.

I’m still working through the “Librarian Tools” part of this list, and have a few parts left before moving on:

  • Better reporting for Librarian changes
  • Librarian tools for managing user-added books
  • Fiction vs Nonfiction indicators
  • Edit Author and Series pages
  • Ability to create and select characters in a book!

This last one is the most exciting to me. We’ve been chatting about in the #development channel on Discord to help make sure we’re solving this in a way that doesn’t leak spoilers. Similar to how we hide genres, moods or content warnings that can be spoilers, we plan to hide characters whose appearance could be a spoiler as well.

Why characters? Well, there’s a lot we want to do down the line that’ll require it. That includes quotes with attribution, a reading journal with entries that reference characters, being able to see a wikipedia-like article about each character, allowing readers to upload their own costumes or fan art of characters or even to have a discussion board for a character.

Which of these we work on is to be determined, but having these characters is the first step. Great characters make great books, and we want to make that a part of Hardcover.

Discord Roles Sync

Currently the only way to get Supporter or Librarian flair on Discord is to message me or post about it in a channel and wait for us to respond. We’re moving away from that to use Discords ability to get data from Hardcover and set those automatically. I’ve been playing around with this and it’s pretty slick. It could also pull in your stats to show in your Discord profile, for example: Books Read or Books read this year.

Bugs and other projects

We’ll also continue fixing bugs and work on other features. Everything else depends on the results of The State of Hardcover 2024 Survey.

Behind the Scenes at Hardcover

January was our highest revenue month yet! That’s the third month in a row I’ve said that. 🥳 Here’s how the numbers broke down this month.

  • January Revenue: $658
  • January Expenses: -$1,420
  • January Profit: -$762
We’re on our way to profitability! 😂

We had a few yearly expenses come in this month including Riverside, which we use for recording Hardcover Live and is an amazing service. If you’re running a podcast or recording video from multiple people and want something quick and easy I’d recommend them. (side note: this is an affiliate link, but a service we pay for).

Our biggest expenses this month were Heroku ($419, Rails, Redis, Database), Riverside ($288) and Hasura ($114, API). Loops also jumped from $50 to $100 as our email list grew from the 5k to the 10k tier.

I’ve updated our Income & Expenses page with January’s numbers. We have another $6.4k in the bank right now, which may be enough to reach profitability without me adding more of my own funds (which I’d do in a heartbeat).

We started to see our registrations per day start to tick upwards ever since our second Product Hunt launch on September 30th. In August we were seeing 5-10 new members a day. Now we’re up to 30 a day this year. It’s incredible how a few months can change things! Maybe in a year we’ll be welcoming hundreds of new readers every day?

I also added a new Press page for us to keep track of any and all mentions of Hardcover by blogs, press, podcasts and the media.

Featured Prompt for January 2024

February is Black History Month – an opportunity to observe and reflect on the black experience now and in the past. It’s a great chance to pick up a book by a black author. This months prompt already has a number of community favorites:

What are your favorite books by black authors?

The publishing industry has struggled to embrace new voices. Many amazing authors have managed to get their voices out–overcoming all obstacles. What books stand out to you as your favorites by black author?

Prompt description

Whether you’re on the lookout for a new book by a black author or want to share your own, check out this months prompt.

January’s Prompt

Last months features prompt was “Need some shorter page turners to finish out my 52 book goal!

The top book so far is All Systems Red by Martha Wells, the first book in The Murderbot Diaries series following a heartless killing machine who just wants to be left alone to watch TV Dramas (honestly, same). And speaking of The Murderbot Diaries series…

What’s Popular on Hardcover?

Here’s a look at what was most read in the last month, and what readers are more looking forward to.

Most Read Books for January 2024

  1. System Collapse (#7 of 7 in The Murderbot Diaries) by Martha Wells
  2. Fourth Wing (#1 of 2 in The Empyrean) by Rebecca Yarros
  3. Iron Flame (#2 of 2 in The Empyrean) by Rebecca Yarros
  4. Kings of the Wyld (#1 of 2 in The Band) by Nicholas Eames
  5. Bookshops & Bonedust (Legends & Lattes prequel) by Travis Baldree

System Collapse finally toppled Fourth Wing this month for our top spot. I, for one, can’t wait for the TV series staring and produced by Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood, Infinity Pool) on Apple TV Plus.

Kings of the Wyld came out of nowhere and showed up in our top 5. Although released in 2017, a bunch of people decided to read it this month. It was the December Book of the Month for the Sword and Laser Podcast, and they even mentioned Hardcover in episode #480 (and #481)! That brought a bunch of new readers over (thanks Tom and Veronica!). If you’re looking for a fun book related podcast, give them a listen!

Most Saved Books To Be Released in February 2024

  1. The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett
  2. Bride by Ali Hazelwood
  3. The Book of Love by Kelly Link
  4. What Feasts at Night by T. Kingfisher
  5. Red Side Story by Jasper Fforde

The Tainted Cup has 41 readers interested – above Bride‘s 25 saves. Robert Jackson Bennett’s previous books include Foundryside and City of Stairs – the later is included in our Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Discovery Flowchart of the 2010s.

Ali Hazelwood continues to be a loved author on Hardcover after Love, Theoretically was featured in the 2023 Year in Books as the #1 most read book from June 2023.

Join us on Discord

The Hardcover Community isn’t just on the website – we’re also on Discord! If you’re not an expert in Discord, don’t worry – neither are we.

Join the over 500 of us to chat about books, hear about product updates, and be a part of the community.

Join the Hardcover Discord

Want to Support Hardcover?

Being a fledgling startup we can use all the help we can get! Whether that’s becoming a Supporter, sharing Hardcover with a friend, or just following along.

We appreciate you for reading and hope you have an amazing February. Talk to you soon. ♥️

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