Hardcover Report for June 2024

Adam FortunaAvatar for Adam Fortuna

By Adam Fortuna

9 min read

Hi book friends!

What a month! In May, the algorithm gods shined on us, leading to the largest growth since we launched. It was enough to break all of our graphs. 😂

To put things in perspective, here are some exciting numbers:

We jumped from 7,897 members to 12,159! That’s 4,262 new members, or 53% growth. 📈

Many of you upgraded from free members to supporters. That increased our supporters from 99 to 137! That’s 38% growth in a month (!).

The main reason for this explosion of growth was a combination of two things: Hardy’s Books YouTube video The Best Goodreads Competitor (That You Probably Haven’t Heard Of) and YouTube’s discovery algorithm deciding to notice us.

After 3 years of building, it feels exciting to be blessed by the algorithm gods for once. 😂

(I’ll take any chance to mention Onyx the Fortuitous, who has a movie out that debuted at Sundance this year!)

I’ve worked at companies and on sites that have seen millions of users, but Hardcover is now, without a doubt, the most successful project that I’ve personally built – and the most fun!

I have big dreams for Hardcover, but at it’s core I want to do everything possible to set it up as a community project (more on that down below in What’s Next). It wouldn’t be what it is without you sharing your reviews and ratings, discovering new books from other readers, or chatting on Discord. ✨

This month, I finished my re-read of the Three Body Problem Trilogy. After watching the Netflix series, I was reminded of what an incredible story it is. I enjoyed it even more this time around. If you’re a science fiction fan, I’d encourage you to check out both – and even to start with the series first, which does a fantastic job of setting up the world.

Oh, and if you’re new to Hardcover, you might be wondering what’s up with this email/post. We recap everything from the previous month each month, share popular books, and announce what we’re working on next. It’s an optional way to stay updated with everything happening in one place. Speaking of which…

What’s New on Hardcover

After releasing Letterbooks last month, this month has been quieter. We fixed some bugs after the last release – which is expected. We did manage to release a few new things in May:

Automatic & Improved Book Data

We need a bunch of data about books. It’s hard to comprehend just how many books and editions are required for a book-tracking website. To make this work, we need to pull in data from several sources and distill it down to what you see.

There’s been a lot of room for improvement in the way we’ve done this! When you add a new book by ISBN 10 or ISBN 13, we’ll now grab data from multiple sources about those books.

This happened before, but not to the extent it does now. It’ll even grab high-quality covers!

This update also starts tracking publishers for editions and gives publishers their own pages on Hardcover.

We also added book category to all books (book, short story, novella, poems, graphic novel, web novel, etc). This field isn’t used just yet, but the plan is to allow filtering of lists and filtered goals using it. This will help with readers who set goals like “Read 100 books,” which exclude graphic novels and non-books (or vice versa).

We’re slowly running an update for all books across the site to improve their data. This process will take most of June. But after that, you’ll see far fewer books without covers or with empty data.

👉 Read more about how we’re Automating Book Data

🔴 Hardcover Live

Earlier this year, we launched the new Hardcover Live, our weekly live show where we build Hardcover in public.

In May, we recorded and released 3 more episodes, which can be watched on YouTube or downloaded through your podcast player of choice.

We’re taking the next two weeks off from Live to focus on implementing several of our designs.

What’s Next on Hardcover?

Here’s a look at what’s coming up in June.

🖼️ Set Edition & Cover for Book In Your Library

This is the #1 most requested feature on Hardcover today, and we’re working on a solution! This will allow you to set which cover and edition title you see in your library and your lists.

This will be huge for non-English readers who want to see the book in their language. It’ll also be helpful for readers who want to see the cover they’re most familiar with in their library.

📚 Bulk Edit Mode & List Filtering

The first phase of LetterBooks allows for ordering and view options for lists of books. It’s a huge improvement, but more than that, it’s a complete rewrite of the code used to display a list of books.

We’ve planned out the next steps for lists: bulk edit mode, filtering, and adding Letterbooks everywhere else across Hardcover!

We’re currently planning to make Bulk Editing a Supporter-only feature.

🆓 Open Sourcing Hardcover

I’m way too excited about this. We’re making progress and are down to three remaining tasks before we can flip the switch: deciding on a license, rotating developer keys that snuck into the repo, and creating a custom importer for people to bring their data with them. I hope to progress on this in June, and if things go well, open source the entire codebase in July.

📊 Dashboard & Advanced Stats

We’re continuing to work on this while trying to create a reusable setup that allows stats to be shown on a dashboard alongside other highlights you’ll want to see. We still have to do a lot here, but we’re making progress!

🎲 Book Crossword Puzzles

This one is entirely for fun. 😂 Luca on the development team has been working on a new labs project that will allow us to create crossword puzzles based on books (and other categories later). The hope is to have a page that lists all crossword puzzles (like with Bookles) and shows up on a book page if it has one. I’m excited that people will have one more way to enjoy their time on Hardcover. 😊

🔍 New Reader Research

Even though we have many new members, we know most of them won’t stick around. People are curious to try something new and shiny but often stick with what’s familiar. This month, we will start researching why people joined and didn’t stick around. We’ll be reaching out to some members this month in hopes of better understanding what they wanted that we were missing.

Behind the Scenes at Hardcover

I shared some of our numbers up top, but I wanted to save one big one for this section:

Our revenue exceeded server costs this month!

It was positive even if it was only $36 (-$1,160 in expenses, +$1,197 in income). In other words, we were profitable (excluding paying ourselves). It’s a big milestone for us, and we took some time to celebrate it. 🥳

We saw 38 new members upgrade to supporters, putting us over the 100 barrier for the first time. 🙌

About half of our members subscribe yearly, which means our monthly MRR is much less than our revenue—about $405/month. Our goal this year has been stability, and I think we’re in good shape.

👉 Check out our income and expenses page to see exactly how much we’ve earned and spent every month since Hardcover started.

Bookfluencer Focus

This month, we’re starting a new section focusing on bookfluencers across the web. A few years ago, it might’ve been surprising to see trending books on TikTok hit the NY Times bestseller list—but not anymore. Trends can start from single posts (This is How We Lose the Time War) or passionate readers just wanting to share their experiences with the world.

▶️ Hailey Hughes (@haileyhughes on Hardcover) posted an in-depth video exploring goodreads alternatives | storygraph, fable, bookmory, hardcover, bookly + more. In this video, she tries out and demos several different platforms. Watching this as the creator of one of these platforms, I was on pins and needles, wondering if she’d like Hardcover. It turns out she did, and she even ended the video by saying she was excited to use it more! 🙌 I’ve since reached out to Hailey and talked about some future ideas. Definitely check out her channel.

▶️ Ashley (@ash.loves.to.read on Hardcover) posted a video to her BookTube Hardcover and Why I Like It More Than Goodreads!, which explores the features on Hardcover she’s tried with her take on them. Thanks so much, Ashley!

▶️ Ross (@rosshardy on Hardcover) from Hardy’s Books posted a video titled The BEST Goodreads Competitor (That You Probably Haven’t Heard Of). Thanks to a catchy title, good editing, and an overall entertaining video, it spread to a wider audience than their channel. I love that he highlights both the good and the parts we could improve on. You can check out our fun interview with Ross and Laura (@ljmartin on Hardcover), which we recorded live.

Have you created any content that mentions Hardcover? Or want to work with us? Reply to this email and let me know. 🙌

Featured Prompt for June 2024

June is Pride Month, and we want to celebrate and commemorate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender authors and characters throughout literature.

That’s the focus of this month’s Featured Prompt:

What are the must-read LGBTQ fantasy books?

Few genres have embraced sexuality like Fantasy. Whether it’s friends to lovers, forbidden relationships, or happily ever after – LGBTQ+ storylines can explore cultures and societies in a way that cisgender relationships can’t. What books standout to you with gay, bi, trans or queer characters?

What books come to mind for you? Let us know in this month’s prompt.

May’s Prompt

Last month’s featured prompt was What’s your favorite sci-fi or fantasy with a strong sense of place? The top results so far are The Lord of the Rings, Dune, The Way of Kings, and The Fifth Season – all incredible Fantasy epics.

I remember reading The Lord of the Rings in 7th grade and scouring the map to discover everything I could about the world, from Mordor to the Gray Havens and from the Iron Hills to the Bay of Belfalas. I see why it’s the top-voted book!

Featured List for June 2024

Lists are a core part of Hardcover, but one that we’re still trying to figure out to elevate. One way we want to do this is by showcasing some of the amazing lists created by the community each month.

For Pride Month, we wanted to feature the Queer Science Fiction and Fantasy Books For Pride list by science fiction and fantasy (SFF) author Sienna Eggler (ey/em). Here’s how ey describe this list.

In this list, I tried to focus on queer books that don’t get as much buzz on other lists. Most are indie titles, others are traditionally published or from smaller presses.

Sienna Eggler

Check it out if you’re looking for a lesser-known SFF this month.

Have you created a list you think is worth sharing? Share it in the #lists channel on Discord, and maybe we’ll feature it next month.

Most Read Books for May 2024

We saw some shakeups this month! Here are the books with the most readers on Hardcover in the last month.

  1. Funny Story by Emily Henry
  2. Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett (#1 of 2 in Emily Wilde)
  3. Dune by Frank Herbert (#1 of 8 in Dune)
  4. All Systems Red by Martha Wells (#1 of 7 in The Murderbot Diaries)
  5. Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros (#1 of 5 in The Empyrean)

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia was this month’s Sword & Laser Podcast book club book, which shares a huge overlap of readers with Hardcover. Dune has been on the rise thanks to the incredible Dune 2 movie. All Systems Red is preparing to film its TV series for Apple TV+ and casting new people every day. Fourth Wing was the most popular book of 2023 and continues to make waves (🐉🌶️).

If you’ve looked at Emily Henry’s body of work, you’ll see hit after hit: Happy Place, Book Lovers, People We Meet on Vacation, Beach Read, and more. Her cozy romance books are perfect for summer reading (or anytime).

Most Saved Books To Be Released in June 2024

The most anticipated books for June focus on two genres: suspense and romance:

  1. Middle of the Night by Riley Sager (74 saves)
  2. The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley (69 saves)
  3. Not in Love by Ali Hazelwood (67 saves)
  4. Horror Movie by Paul Tremblay (50 saves)
  5. The Rom-Commers by Katherine Center (44 saves)

You might recognize a few of these authors. Each one of them has had hits in the past and developed loyal reader bases. Riley Sager’s The Only One Left and Ali Hazelwood’s Love, Theoretically both appeared on Hardcover’s 2023 Year in Books.

Each of these books is by an established author who is already popular on Hardcover. I’d love to find a way to showcase books by lesser-known authors and even authors releasing their first book. If you have any ideas on how we could do that, I’d love to hear them! (Reply to this email with your ideas.)

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 others to chat about books, hear about product updates, and be part of the community.

Join the Hardcover Discord

Want to Support Hardcover?

As 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 reading this and hope you have an amazing month. Talk to you soon. ♥️

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