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#22 – Homepage Redesign & Accounts

Avatar for @adamAvatar for @ste
33 min read


In this conversation, Adam and Ste discuss various topics including Halloween, personal updates, and the progress of Hardcover. They also talk about marketing strategies, user feedback, and the challenges of building a book tracking platform. The conversation concludes with a discussion about the size of the database and the number of books in Hardcover’s collection. The conversation explores various aspects of discussions on the Hardcover platform, including merging authors into discussions, managing advanced reader copies, sponsored reviews and disclosure, benefits for book bloggers, author and publisher accounts, and hierarchy of permissions. The hosts also discuss the upcoming Product Hunt launch.


Halloween is a favorite holiday for many people, and dressing up in costumes is a common tradition.
Hardcover is receiving positive feedback from users and is becoming a worthy alternative to Goodreads.
The conversion rate for new users on Hardcover is higher than average, indicating that people are finding value in the platform.
Discussions and references are important features for readers, and there are plans to further enhance these features on Hardcover.
Adding non-ISBN books and improving book tracking analytics are potential future developments for Hardcover. Authors submitting advanced reader copies can be merged into discussions on the Hardcover platform.
Managing advanced reader copies and connecting authors with reviewers can be a valuable feature for authors and publishers.
Including a checkbox for sponsored reviews and disclosure can provide transparency and trust in the review process.
Hardcover can provide a platform for book bloggers to share their content and gain more exposure.
Author and publisher accounts can have a hierarchy of permissions to manage multiple authors and books.
The hosts plan to launch on Product Hunt and encourage users to support them.


00:00 Introduction and Halloween
03:00 Updates on Personal Life
07:53 Updates on Hardcover
12:12 Marketing and User Feedback
19:13 Book Discussions and References
28:00 Adding Non-ISBN Books
36:57 Communicating Hardcover’s Purpose
41:31 Challenges of Building a Book Tracking Platform
42:07 Database Size and Book Count
42:42 Introduction and Discussion Tweaks
43:15 Merging Authors into Discussions
46:34 Managing Advanced Reader Copies
49:17 Sponsored Reviews and Disclosure
53:12 Benefits for Book Bloggers
57:10 Author and Publisher Accounts
01:02:28 Hierarchy of Permissions for Authors and Publishers
01:03:57 Wrap-up and Next Steps
01:04:28 Product Hunt Launch Announcement


Adam (00:01.078)
Hey, hey, stay, how’s it going?

Ste (00:03.123)
Hiya, it’s going well. Enjoying another evening in London, how about you?

Adam (00:12.098)
It’s somehow gotten really nice here in Salt Lake City. Like, it’s hovering between like 60 and 80, which is like, right? Like normally we’d set the AC on like low 70s if we wanted it to be like cool inside our house. And it’s like been in that range. It’s still pretty hot outside during the hottest part of the day, but yeah.

Ste (00:36.527)
Oh god, yeah. I mean, I’m telling you, I can’t wait for it to get a little bit chillier because last week in London has been like absolutely awful to London standards. But yeah, I’m hoping for some wind, some like, you know, that kind of atmosphere to go enhance the teeth and like watch the leaves fall from the trees.

Adam (00:55.266)

Ste (01:03.835)
Halloween is coming, like it’s right around the corner and it’s one of my favorite holidays. So looking forward to that.

Adam (01:03.886)

Adam (01:12.174)
Are you dressing up as anything?

Ste (01:14.763)
Well, I was thinking, I mean, my wife and I have been talking about like embracing our goth like arc or phase and I was thinking of going like a bit in that area but let’s see, let’s see if I have actually have the graphic good but yeah not anything in particular.

Adam (01:39.211)

Ste (01:44.303)
I haven’t been trick or treating. Although kids do it over here, I was surprised to see that. Yeah, how about you? What’s your like go-to? What was your go-to costume when you were a kid? Did you like do it or is it?

Adam (01:50.813)
Mm-mm. Yeah.

Adam (02:00.09)
Oh yeah, like I was trick or treating every year up until I was basically as old as like the oldest kids that were trick or treating. But yeah, I really just remember not doing anything too elaborate, mostly just like throwing on a cape and being a vampire or like doing something kind of small, but you know, making

Ste (02:10.439)

Ste (02:21.897)
Ha ha, class.

Adam (02:28.394)
like leftover Halloween stuff my parents had and coming up with a costume from that.

Ste (02:33.928)
Well, that sounds pretty great. Yeah. I wish I had Halloween growing up. We didn’t celebrate it, and we didn’t have any equivalent. But in all the US movies that I’ve seen from my childhood, there were kids trick-or-treating, and I was looking at them, and I was like, wow, OK, this is actually happening. So yeah, when I came to London, usually it’s around the areas which have houses. So I have a lot of fun.

Adam (03:00.375)

Ste (03:01.099)
streets in my neighborhood and I’m actually seeing kids with their little bags and dressed up as all the classic stuff but also the modern stuff like I don’t know Adventure Time or what else do kids like these days?

Adam (03:16.95)
Lots of anime.

Ste (03:18.391)
Oh yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think it’s a super like, clear gateway into cosplaying. So that’s great because, you know, I don’t think like for us growing up, it was such a big thing, I guess. But now we can like merge from trick or treating into like cosplaying like that.

Adam (03:20.354)

Adam (03:27.65)

Adam (03:35.627)

Adam (03:44.446)
Yeah, it seemed like at least where I was, most Halloween costumes typically were scary. Like that was kind of the theme of Halloween. It’s like do something, do like a, you know, a scary character from a book or a show or something. And nowadays, it’s really just like a chance to dress up. It’s more like cosplay than anything else, which is awesome.

Ste (03:52.895)
I’m certain.

Ste (04:06.867)

I know, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I’ve been through that debate. I think it was like a couple of years ago, like with something united on Twitter, because people were dressing up as fairies or like, I don’t know, going out, getting drunk and just like putting on whatever costume, which was not scary. And there was this debate. Halloween is supposed to be scary. But yeah, I think the consensus was like whatever.

whatever you like and yeah I actually celebrated in London a couple of years ago before the pandemic yeah I think that’s why I didn’t do it the past few years but yeah just like some face makeup I don’t even I think I was kind of like a troll or dwarf I had like green face and that was like all I could put together but not scary but anyway yeah

Adam (04:52.43)
I’m gonna go to bed.

Adam (05:05.455)
Yeah, I should figure out what I’m doing this year. Because, like, what? Oh, I don’t even know yet. I think my wife and I have a little list because we tried to do a couples costume. Last year we did Jamie and Claire Frazier from Outlander, which was a fun one. Literary costume was fun. But…

Ste (05:08.935)
Haha, what are the options?

Ste (05:23.039)

Adam (05:28.158)
I think we’ve, we keep like bringing up like whenever like there’s an interesting couple we’re like, oh we should, we should go as them for Halloween. But then normally we don’t write it down so it kind of falls off our radar. So we need to like see if she’s remembered some of them that I haven’t.

Ste (05:44.512)
Yeah, well, that’s a great list. This is like, I’m, maybe people will post on hardcover because like literary costumes are like one idea that I haven’t been thinking about, but yeah, that’s like huge.

Adam (06:00.66)
Maybe that should be our prompt we send in October. It’s like, what’s a character from a book that you’d want to dress up as for Halloween and to see what books come to the top?

Ste (06:12.259)
Oh yeah, that’s a great one. Yeah, that’s a great one. Yeah, maybe I’ll dig a bit into that for this year that might like, if I’m not doing like the goth thing, maybe this is it. Wonderful. I choose.

Adam (06:21.41)

Adam (06:27.534)
I know there’s a lot of kids that dress up as like Harry Potter characters, because you can just get the robe, a wand, and then like a hat, and that’s basically all you need.

Ste (06:33.273)
Oh yeah.

Ste (06:36.967)
That’s huge. You literally go to the Harry Potter store and get the Harry Potter costume and all the shenanigans that come with it over here. So yeah, it’s like, yeah.

Adam (06:48.493)
I’m out.

Ste (06:51.775)

Adam (06:54.03)
I think we were joking about going as Sansa, Stark, and Littlefinger from Game of Thrones. Because I have a similar look to Littlefinger and I think…

Ste (07:02.315)
Oh, wow, that’s great. Okay. I

Yeah, you do. Oh crap, you do. Okay. Yeah. That’s actually a good one. I’ve been getting, yeah, I’ve been getting comparisons from Gary Oldman. So I’ll have to check out like one role, maybe he mean fifth element that’s, but yeah, he had, he had lots of good roles and yeah, I’m not planning to like shave one part of my head for that. So I’ll think of something.

Adam (07:15.699)
So maybe.

Adam (07:21.102)

Adam (07:29.247)

Ste (07:38.587)
Nice. Yeah, but that’s a good one. Yeah. Well, if you do it, make sure you take lots of pictures because I’m dying to see that. Nice.

Adam (07:38.836)

Adam (07:45.192)

Adam (07:50.531)
for sure.

Aside from that, what have you been up to lately?

Ste (07:56.763)
Well parenting mostly which is great lots of like new stuff in the challenges every day I’ve been to a sushi restaurant last week, which has been really good and Yeah, just like taking it easy trying to get into the rhythm of things I guess Yeah, how about you?

Adam (08:21.594)
Um, this last week, uh, well, two weeks ago, my wife had COVID. So last week was kind of the first week where we were able to like be in the same rooms together, which was nice. So, uh, mostly just, you know, catching up. We went to, uh, there’s a street fair, a couple of blocks from our, well, it’s a couple of blocks, it was more like a mile from our apartment.

the Avenue Street Fair here in Salt Lake. We went to that on Saturday, which was really neat. They shut down like a five block street, and it’s just like vendors, lots of local vendors, crafts, and just a lot of local creators just making stuff, which was really just neat to see.

Ste (09:10.331)
nice. You have good food as well.

Adam (09:15.018)
We were hoping it would, but it had, it was more like fair, fair food. Like, you know how there’s kind of like fair, um, food vendors and there’s like food truck food vendors. And this was more towards the fair food truck vendors.

Ste (09:22.662)

Ste (09:27.454)

Ste (09:30.921)
Okay, gotcha. So more like hot dogs, that kind of stuff.

Adam (09:35.89)
Yeah, like stuff you could turn out in quantity so that you only need a couple of them rather than food charts which are normally a little slower, but yeah.

Ste (09:41.883)

Yeah, yeah, but they’re better and lately they’ve been like getting amazing. I have a food fair, like a permanent one, like 15 minutes away from my house. It’s called Malby street market and there’s like lots of stuff in there. Last time I went there, I got a steak with chimichurri and it was a really well done steak, like all I think grown and like really quality beef and yeah, they have all sorts of stuff.

They have to read whenever you’re in London.

Adam (10:17.858)
is we always go to, what’s the big market? That’s Borough Market, yeah.

Ste (10:18.483)
Definitely. Yeah.

Ste (10:25.127)
Borrow. Yeah. Yeah, Borrow’s great. It’s kind of like that, but a bit smaller and with like smaller vendors. That’s why I guess everybody’s like coming up with new stuff every… But yeah, Borrow’s a classic. I always get oysters because they have like a place with fresh oysters there. And now there’s like lots of cafes that opened around the area. Ice cream. Yeah, you can find basically anything.

Adam (10:41.432)

Adam (10:55.35)
Man, if you’re ever in Seattle, there’s an oyster place we went to last year. It was like an hour north of Seattle, right on the coast. And it’s like an oyster farm and restaurant. And so like we went up there and you just order, we just ordered like four dozen oysters for the two of us. Just like.

Ste (11:10.134)
Oh, wow. Okay.

Ste (11:18.879)
Nice. Oh wow, okay, that’s a lot of oysters. Yeah.

Adam (11:23.19)
Just like six of this kind, six of this kind, six of this kind, and so good.

Ste (11:27.107)
Nice. Yeah, that’s that sounds great. And with oysters, yeah, you want to go to like a farm or like something because it’s really like hit or miss, I guess. So, yeah, when you find like a place like that. OK, so in Seattle. Well. Someday, definitely I’ll be in Seattle. Is it close to I have no notion. Sorry, this is my like European mindset play. I have no notion of.

like how far it is from Salt Lake.

Adam (12:02.178)
It’s about a two-day drive from Salt Lake. It’s a long one. But the… I’ll… Oh.

Ste (12:05.335)
Okay. Yeah. I probably like go more away by car in that same time or something.

Adam (12:12.738)
I’ll send you the thing for later. Yeah. Yeah, it’s… Yeah. Yeah, other than that, yeah.

Ste (12:15.227)
Yeah, nice. Thanks.

Ste (12:20.103)
That’s great. Yeah.

Ste (12:26.515)
That’s cool. And for hardcover updates, we have, we’ve been rolling out the big updates and people have been like really enjoying them so far. We’ve got lots of really good feedback. The last emails you sent on the team channel were like really reassuring because I think we’re getting close to that moment where people are.

Adam (12:27.854)
Thanks for watching!

Adam (12:31.254)

Let’s see.

Ste (12:55.043)
actually finding hardcover as a worthy alternative to Goodreads. So I think that’s been like two years in the making. That’s crazy to hear that. So that got me really, really hopeful. Someone just saying that, so not us asking, would you switch from Goodreads? And maybe becoming like unprompted from someone.

Adam (13:02.936)

Adam (13:16.694)

Adam (13:24.511)

Ste (13:24.889)
That’s something.

Adam (13:28.358)
Yeah, it’s pretty amazing hearing, like, just having people send emails saying, like, hey, I really like what you’re doing. I’ve been using it for a week, and I’ve stopped using Goodreads altogether. Now I’m just using hardcover. Like, that means it’s working. Like, people feel comfortable enough on the platform to, like, make that switch, which is huge.

Ste (13:50.011)
Yeah, yeah, it is. Yeah, really glad that’s starting to happen. Ha ha ha. I was wondering when that kind of moment would come. And yeah, I think it’s here. So, yeah.

Adam (13:55.211)
Thank you.


Adam (14:06.014)
Yeah. And one of the things we were talking about when we were talking about doing some updates on the home page for the launch, which I’m sure we’re going to talk more about it, is we were calculating what the conversion rate that current people are doing for a new user who just kind of like finds hardcover, maybe through a link, maybe through a search result.

and they get to hardcover, they click around, what percentage of those convert to a user on the platform? How many people sign up and actually register? And I think we found it was between 14% and 22%, which is insane, which is great.

Ste (14:54.099)
Yeah, I wasn’t expecting that. I mean, the average conversion rate for any digital product is like 1%, 2%, if you’re lucky, like 3%. So this is, I mean, I think we kind of hit the need, which is like really a bit that conversion rates surprised me. So I’m eager to get.

Adam (15:06.956)

Ste (15:21.667)
even more visitors because apparently even with the homepage we currently have, it seems like it’s like really a thing that drives people to sign up. So that’s really good.

Adam (15:41.463)
Now, I have a feeling one of the future things we’ll be figuring out is how to get, if you’re able to sign up from that to a supporter plan. But I feel like just getting people in right now is much more important than, you know, optimizing conversions to a supporter plan. Like, we just want people to use it, see what they think, make a better product.

Ste (15:58.235)
Yeah, exactly.

Ste (16:03.983)
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And even for supporters, I mean, that’s like the extras we have on top of what other platforms offer. So I guess that’s like my thinking around the supporter plan. So it’s been also good to see people actually like sign up for that as well. I mean, I always wonder where these people come from. I mean,

When you’re building a product, you hope you’re doing that, but you hope you’re building it so people would come and ideally they would pay so you can make it better and you can sustain it. But I always wonder, who are these people who find products online and they’re just like, okay, I’m gonna go do it. I tried wondering in what’s like.

circumstances, I do that on sites and sometimes I do that when it’s like a really nice website and I think like ours might be.

Adam (17:11.974)
Yeah, I feel like it takes a lot for me to sign up for something. Like, it has to be a need that I’ve thought about before. Like, it’s very rare where I see something and I’m like trying to read through their landing page, like, okay, how would this be beneficial to me? How would I actually use this? Like, is this going to replace something? Is this going to solve some problem I don’t know I even have? But for hardcover, like, anyone who uses Goodreads, like…

Ste (17:30.426)

Ste (17:35.036)

Adam (17:40.066)
can instantly be familiar with the concept we’re solving. So I think it’s easier for people to just try it out, even if they’re not going to commit from day one. But I feel like we’re getting to that point where those people who try it out are like, oh, this is good. And so, yeah.

Ste (17:48.264)

Ste (18:00.241)

Ste (18:03.599)
Yeah, that’s been great. And I think there are a few pieces at play that still have to click for it to make even more sense than it does now. I think it’s part of the things or the plan we’re working on with discussions and then with authors and then authors being able to ideally sustain

promotion which is horrible right now on other platforms on Hardcover exclusively, so I guess those are like parts of the puzzle which haven’t come into play yet, but they will at some point It’s been good to see people trusting us so far without with all those parts coming in to get together as we’re We’re building it because yeah, I mean

It’s been really good and we have a lot of appreciation for people who just like see hardcover and just go for it.

Adam (19:13.362)
Yeah, I just started reading a new book that just came out this week. Oh man, what’s it called? But it was, it was kind of relevant to this.

Adam (19:33.002)
It’s called the Internet Con, How to Seize the Means of Computation. And it’s about, it’s a, let me, I’m just starting reading it, so let me add it to my thing. But it’s, it’s kind of, it’s, it’s kind of about like, all these big tech platforms and how they kind of have become a monopoly.

Ste (19:41.519)
Oh wow, okay. I haven’t seen it on hardcover.

Ste (19:50.827)
Ah, here we go.

Adam (20:03.39)
kind of how, like, it kind of drove out all the small innovations for, you know, sites like ours over the last decade because it was just the way to get traffic was to leverage off of the big sites. Like, you know, you’re like, there’s an example in another book I was reading about. At ELO or ELA, I can’t remember the name. It was a social network that started in like 2018.

and they were supposed to be like an anti-Facebook. And yet they were like, they had ads on Facebook to get people to move from Facebook to this platform. So it’s like, you’re giving Facebook money for trying to like migrate users. So it’s like, it’s this like, yeah, complicated system of trying to get people to, you know, get off big tech. And yeah.

Ste (20:57.799)
Yeah, I think it’s… Yeah, you’re totally right. It is the end of an era. I think it played out. Then again, I mean, I think these models are hard to do, are hard to emulate in any other setup. So what Facebook did, what Twitter did, what Reddit did, I think it’s hard to like come up with another model.

Adam (20:58.218)
Yeah, it’s, it’s.

Ste (21:27.579)
So I guess there had to be some like buffer time between them starting and new platforms like ours to emerge. But I’m kind of seeing it. I mean, there are like lots of new platforms, which now, I mean, hardly anyone has heard about them. Like GoodsRuice has like 100 million users. We have a couple of thousands, but then again, I’m seeing it. I mean, there are a lot of…

platforms in other domains like social networks or whatever, you know, the next concept of social networking is games. I’m seeing like so much stuff in gaming from indie studios that is just trying to emulate games, which like made you feel like a certain way, but there’s been quite a gap because many, it kind of converged towards like big studios and a certain kind of like game that was

good on the market, but now, you know, at least like I felt the need for like farming simulators, city builders, that kind of stuff. And there weren’t like any titles which came out or the ones that came out weren’t that exciting. Like the times when I was playing, I don’t know, Age of Empires or something like that. Or what was that with the Greek Empire? Zeus? Was it Zeus? I think it was Zeus. Yeah. Oh man, I’m taking the shit out

Adam (22:52.02)
Oh yeah.

Ste (22:56.447)
And yeah, maybe we were kids, so that’s what made fun. But I’d still play that if it was revamped. And there are gaming studios that revamped. There are social networks that are trying to find a new model. How to get the hook-in. I think books is a good hook-in. So maybe, I mean, that’s our bet, I guess.

Adam (22:58.249)
Those are fun.

Adam (23:24.267)

Adam (23:28.038)
Yeah, like one of the questions I’ve been asking people when we talk to them about discussions is like, you know, tell me about the last discussion you had about a book after you finished it. Like, where was that discussion? How did you find those people? And then like tell me about one that you had online versus in person. Because normally when I ask that question, people, the first thing they do is talk about an in-person discussion they had. And so it’s like, you know, maybe they’re

And about half the time they’ve been telling me about a discussion they had with someone where they were telling someone about the book and that other person hadn’t read it. It was more it was more it was more sharing the book than about like an in-depth discussion between two people who read it, which is also interesting.

Ste (24:16.455)
Yeah, yeah, that’s really interesting. I think, like, would the way we do things now cover that scenario because now that I think of it, I think, like, suggesting a book to someone who hasn’t read it might be, like, one of the, like, main things you do in real life. And that’s, like, a really interesting insight you got from the interviews.

Adam (24:38.215)
Mm, yeah. Yeah.

Adam (24:43.938)
Yeah, that like a recommend this book kind of feature. One of the ways that I am really considering like how we could implement that, it was a way that the readerly app did something like this, where after you finished a book, like during the review process, when you’re like reviewing a book, it said like, what are some books this reminded you of? And then…

Ste (25:10.217)
Hmm, okay.

Adam (25:11.794)
using that data, we could say like, oh, like you have like, you know, if you rate one of the books that it reminds you of as five stars, then you’re much more likely to like that book.

Ste (25:25.027)
Okay. Yeah. That’s like the formal process of how it usually goes. I think we kind of like covered that in mentions. I mean, you can actually write like this book reminded me of like 10 books. So, and even writing about like the book or about the chapter or about something that struck you, I think is exactly the way you’d tell someone about the book. So I think it kind of.

Adam (25:26.478)

Adam (25:53.865)

Ste (25:54.687)
covers it without, yeah, without us having to do like much, just like leaving it out there for people to actually like say in their like own language, whatever they want. I mean, maybe it reminded them badly, maybe it reminded them in a good way, maybe it reminded, so you could be reviewing like books that are like not that good. And you…

could review books about the theme. So yeah, I think the way we kind of open it up with allowing mentions and allowing people to just say that thing about the book, I think is way better at covering that and leaving it open. So it would be interesting to see if we can get the data from that process you just described.

somehow makes sense of it. So maybe there’s a nugget there.

Adam (26:58.21)
Yeah, as you were saying that, I was kind of thinking like, you know, we have a board for a book, like, you know, that has, you know, let’s say it’s been around a while, it has 100 discussions. And throughout those 100 discussions, we have a lot of mentioned books and authors and other things. We could like roll those up and somehow show like, here are the most referenced things.

from all of the discussions. So we could say like, oh, so, and then we could group them by like here are books, here are the most mentioned authors, here are the most mentioned characters, and we can highlight ones that are in this universe versus ones that aren’t. It’s because people might mention the series or other books in the series or other books by the author, but they might also be mentioning completely other books and things. I’m not sure how we should show that.

Ste (27:27.303)
Hmm, yeah, that’s…

Ste (27:52.703)
That’s pretty.

Adam (27:54.198)
But it’s another piece of data that we could use in discussions that is very unique.

Ste (28:01.371)
Yeah, that’s great. I mean, where would you see that? So we got the discussion board. That should be accessible from that page. So you’d see the discussion board, and what would be like a good wording for this? They would be references, right? So maybe like a reference tab that takes them to all the references, like a sub tab, or a button, or something like that.

Adam (28:22.635)

Ste (28:29.999)
I just want to add the comments somewhere to not forget about it. So I’m just going to put in references and I’m just not going to use the icon right now because that’s not important. But yeah, let’s get that in there. I think it could be really, really nice to, yeah, that basically covers that. If you could see references and you could interact.

Adam (28:35.542)

Ste (28:59.047)
with all those references, so kind of like meta data or meta analysis of all the discussions on that book page. That’s really good info. For readers and for authors, I think even for others, you’d be interested in the universe around your book. Maybe we could even draw a nice chart of the actual universe.

Adam (29:27.062)
Oh yeah. That would be neat.

Ste (29:29.599)
Stuff like that. Yeah. Nice.

Adam (29:32.866)
that it kind of reminds me of Last FM, like when you have like the related, like you go to the related tab for a song and so like related songs, related author or artists.

Ste (29:36.732)
Oh yeah!

Ste (29:44.795)
Yeah, Last FM was great for that. I think they ruined it in the meantime, but Last FM was great when it was at its peak. Yeah, that’s really good. They nailed it, I remember everyone being on Last FM, everyone like scrabbling their music. I guess now, it’s on the Apple Music, but yeah, kind of like they had the opportunity and they missed it. I wonder why. Maybe it’s because they got funding and what happens, like bringing 10 product managers.

Adam (29:55.02)

Adam (30:12.641)

Ste (30:15.908)
getting the products.

Adam (30:16.395)
Yeah, I-

Adam (30:20.206)
I used the hell out of last of M when it was around. I was like, because I would like listen to music all day at work and I would be at home too and I would be like, scrabbling, which wasn’t a term I had ever heard before, but I guess that’s a word. I wasn’t even sure if that was a made up word or an actual verb.

Ste (30:31.6)

Ste (30:36.367)

Yeah, they just like came up with that and it’s not even called SFM and it’s scrabbling. But yeah, it goes to show that it’s like, I guess the language around like this stuff is like so flexible as long as it does, you know, scrabble, you’re okay. You’re like, okay, it’s scrabbles. That’s, is that even a word?

Adam (31:02.826)
I was just Googling it and I don’t even see it as a word. Maybe I’m spelling it wrong, but yeah.

Ste (31:10.108)
Yeah. It’s kind of like, I mean, you could say you are like crawling or like whatever, but yeah, scrambling is just, it’s scrambling, you know, maybe you can scramble.

Adam (31:20.394)
Yeah. And that’s kind of what I feel like some people have been asking about for Kindle integration. Kindle right now can scrabble what you read to Goodreads. And so if we had a Scrobbler that went to a hardcover, that would be really cool.

Ste (31:34.451)

Ste (31:41.019)
Yeah, it could be like hardcover sync. I think we approached that. I think there are people on GitHub who built versions of that for React, I guess. I think I searched for it, but I’m not sure like the status that they’re in. But yeah, that might be fun down the line too. I think we have to, after we do all this, like discussions, authors, those are the big things. Maybe we can take a look into actual tracking.

I found a lot of good apps on the app store in the books section as well. Uh, I’m going to share them in the team chat, but there’s one which has like really nice transitions and I think they nailed the book tracking, but it’s just for book tracking the whole referential system, the whole discovery thing is not really there and yeah. Uh, but the tracking, I think they, I think it’s called.

Adam (32:27.822)
Thank you.

Ste (32:42.216)
or something. Yeah, there are lots of like interesting apps. Yeah, they’re in the top charts for the app store. There are like, for books, there are such like interesting diversity of apps. My favorites are the romance slash like smut.

Adam (32:44.779)
looking at my book list.


Ste (33:10.967)
apps where basically people write short romance stories and they publish them and they get huge. So there’s a couple of them. I mean, I think there’s one even in the top five. So it’s just like Goodreads, the Apple book app. It’s a couple of others. And this is like the fifth one. And yeah, people are reading the hell out of that. Another thing than what we’re doing. But yeah, it’s, it’s an interesting.

Adam (33:28.455)
Oh, wow. Yeah.

Adam (33:35.47)

Adam (33:39.81)

Ste (33:40.575)
the fact that you can be an author that’s like popular on this niche and pretty successful and nobody like in the book world has ever like heard of. But yeah, there are people who have like hundreds of thousands of readers there, which is crazy.

Adam (33:58.498)
Man, that makes me think we need like a better way to add books that don’t have an ISBN or like a Goodreads ID because I feel like fan fiction and all that. But then again, you know, this is a problem that as more people join, more people will say, okay, I need to add non-ISBN books. And maybe we just haven’t had enough current readers to do it.

Ste (34:09.086)
Yeah, that might be interesting.

Ste (34:22.491)
Yeah, it can be.

Ste (34:27.035)
Yeah, yeah, as many features, you know, when we get pressure to like build that stuff from readers, I think that’s a good time. But definitely I can see it happening. It can be just as simple as letting librarians who are like having a super librarian role that lets you add like books. So there are easy ways around it. Yeah.

Adam (34:48.906)
Yeah. Yeah, one.

One easy way is to, which is what Storygraph does, is anyone can add a book and it has like a user added tag and only librarians can remove the user added tag. So it’s like librarians kind of are anointing books as like a, like we have verified this book exists and until it’s verified it has a user added tag.

Ste (35:14.985)

Ste (35:18.411)
Okay. Yeah, that’s not too bad. I mean, it surfaces books straight away. I’m wondering how many like weird books get added that stay in the system because librarians are not reviewing them. So maybe it’s better to like have that review before, like have a queue of books that have been added and have a librarian just go, okay, this is good. This is good. This is like, I don’t know, state propaganda for whatever. This is not good work. Yeah.

Adam (35:28.298)
I’m out.

Adam (35:44.866)

Adam (35:48.162)
Yeah. And then those books don’t show up in search if they’re user added. Only confirmed ones show up in search. But then, like, they show up everywhere else. They just don’t show up in search.

Ste (35:58.459)
Yeah, yeah, that’s good. I mean, I think there are lots of indie authors who, I mean, no, most of them have an ISBN. Yeah. I guess it’s for like periodicals, like articles, some comics maybe. Yeah, fan fiction. Yeah. I always dreamed of a place where I could like read some short stories, which like obviously there’s a need for that because there are like apps which are super huge.

Adam (36:19.03)

Ste (36:28.027)
So yeah, maybe when we get authors, right? Which is like, yeah, after discussions, we can talk about it. Yeah, but it’s been really interesting. And I guess like up until now in this session, we talked about marketing and that’s like, I think a really important highlight because explaining what we do has been like really big challenge for us, I guess. These…

these two years and we’ve gone to multiple versions of that. It’s been interesting to see how we nail what HaraCover is because if you say it’s a social network, some people who are into book tracking might be like, ah, I don’t want a social network. If you say you’re actually doing like,

book tracking and you can even be like a replacement for other book tracking websites, which where you can like build a legacy library. People who want to get social and like read with others mention, no, but that means you don’t have book clubs. It’s just for tracking. So like getting that thing right has been. Yeah, that’s what founders should do, I guess.

our mission to do it, but it’s been interesting to see how it evolved and how it kind of came in like, how it fell into place. Yeah, how do you feel about that process?

Adam (37:51.113)

Adam (38:00.259)
Thank you.

Adam (38:05.026)

Adam (38:12.271)
I feel like as a, like one of the first things we kind of knew is that the way that most people use Goodreads is that they search for a book, they add it to their library as a like save I want to read this and then maybe someday in the future they decide that they want to read it, they mark it as currently reading or maybe read when they’re done, they review it and they log it. And that’s like the flow that most people use Goodreads for.

And I feel like we knew that from the start, and we kind of were designing around it. But we weren’t designing it linearly. We were designing this piece, and then we were designing this piece, and then we were designing this piece, and then this piece. And now we have the full flow. And so now, and because now we have that full flow, including the discovery part, which I feel like was missing up until this last release, it made it

Ste (38:56.839)
Yeah. Ha ha ha.

Adam (39:09.854)
It made it so, like, some point during that process, you might just drop off completely. But now I feel like we’re mostly there. There’s a couple of bumps, but it’s getting there. So now, in terms of communicating it, I feel like we’re able to say and describe that whole process of how someone would use hardcover from scratch, including that piece at the very end where you’re like,

Ste (39:21.437)

Adam (39:38.314)
Maybe you’ve already read some books and now you’re trying to evaluate, like understand your reading habits based on what you’ve read. And I feel like that analytics and insights part, it’s still a part that we could do more on, but that’s a lower priority than discussions.

Ste (39:57.863)
Yeah, it’s amazing like the scale which like a product like this has and it kind of reminds me of that meme. We didn’t do this because it was easy, we did this because we thought it was easy. So that’s kind of like every founder including us. So like building it throughout, I mean getting to this point.

Yeah, I mean, yeah, you’re spot on that we build all these pieces that now came together in this experience, which is…

Adam (40:38.41)
Yeah, I think…

Ste (40:40.767)
consistent, I guess. But yeah, it takes a lot, a lot to get here, which I’m guessing is the reason why there aren’t so many like good reads competitors out there. I mean, it’s like what? 10 big ones, like serious ones, maybe 20.

Adam (40:43.501)

Adam (41:01.282)

Ste (41:02.815)
I couldn’t name 20, but yeah.

Adam (41:06.831)
And I get probably the only name about five that are web and mobile. Most of them lately have been going mobile only, which has been like, if we were mobile only, that would for sure make things a lot easier. Like I would, but it makes things easier on some routes, but then it’s.

Ste (41:17.16)

Ste (41:24.711)
Mmm, yeah.

Adam (41:31.854)
It’s not a replacement for Goodreads, because Goodreads has a website. It has a mobile site.

Ste (41:36.135)
Yeah. And they’re going to be like, yeah, now you go ahead.

Adam (41:42.994)
Oh, I was looking at our database because I was curious and it’s at 198 gigabytes.

Ste (41:51.967)
That’s not that that’s huge. Yeah. Well, you’d expect this from a site that has like, how many books do we have? We have like a couple of million points.

Adam (41:52.974)

Yeah, that’s pretty big.

Adam (42:01.762)
I’m sorry.

Adam (42:07.234)
Yeah, like, it’s like 800,000 books, but then like 20 million editions. And then, yeah, yeah.

Ste (42:16.131)
Yeah, that’s a lot. And yeah, probably like much more to be honest, through imports. Yeah, that’s really…

Ste (42:28.543)
That’s really interesting.

Adam (42:35.561)
for, you know, now that we have like 20 minutes left, is there anything else you’d like to like do a deep dive in for today? Or

Ste (42:42.703)
Well, we could either jump into discussions or did you have any other thing in mind?

Adam (42:55.758)
No, I mean, I’d be done for just kind of like looking over discussions again, and then just like seeing if there are any smaller tweaks we want to make today. There hasn’t, I haven’t done any user interviews since our last talk, but I have one later today. So, um, kind of whatever we settle on for today, I’ll probably be showing it to someone later today to get feedback on.

Ste (43:03.903)

Ste (43:15.243)
Okay, or we can actually talk about it because this was mentioned in the chat and it could just like be us exploring that concept. How will authors get merged into discussion? Because I think that’s like a key point. We had some chat about how authors submit advanced reader copies to readers, which…

would be another interesting thing to see how it could be merged with some parts of discussions or if it could work within that flow. I’m thinking if someone posts a review that’s an ARC review, can we highlight it somehow in the same discussions flow by just

Ste (44:11.839)
process of an author publishing a book, either in the publishing or through a publishing house and what happens and where we can drop into that process and make it easier. We know from Jeff, who’s a really outstanding member of our community, that our previews have been…

a certain way of being distributed to reviewers. And now, right now that’s really clunky and like not optimized. And there isn’t like a really a process in place. You just have to be like aware of the people who are doing it and connected. And there are some publishers that have a system in place and there are some authors who…

do it through these informal channels. But there isn’t one place where you can actually manage that. So these are reviews that get sent to people who are book reviewers. And they do a review pre-release. And it gets published. I think in our case,

I was thinking what if that review gets published as a discussion on that pre-release book page and it gets flagged or not flagged, but marked as a art review and somehow the author or the publisher that signs up to a publisher account can manage those reviewers and they can select them ideally.

from hardcover. Like, let’s see how many people have reviewed or have like, because we have that prestige score we’re using for discussions, maybe that can be used for this purpose. I think it could be like a way to get authors and publishers. It’s a small market, but we can get a big chunk of that small market. What are your thoughts around that?

Adam (46:32.45)

Adam (46:36.442)
Yeah, I think like when it comes to like problems that authors have, once we start talking to a bunch of them, there’s probably going to be certain themes that come up time and time again. And I fully anticipate that like the whole process of like advanced review copies, getting reviews, getting publicity in the time before the books released, to be like one of the biggest problems.

And so yeah, how we enable authors to do that on hardcover, I feel like that’s gonna be, that’s gonna be an important problem to solve. Once we have like authors on the system, then, but yeah, then the question is, would an author sign up specifically for that, or would they sign up for something else and then use that? And…

I could see them signing up just for that. Like if there was enough audience on hardcover for them to distribute their book and get those advanced review copies out. See, I could for sure see that as something down the line. And then for how it integrates with discussions, one thing I was thinking is that for reviews, we probably need like a checkbox on their view.

I was compensated in some way for this review. And then that could be like, I got a copy of the book for free. I was paid to write about it. You know, just some indication that this is a sponsored review. Yeah, I feel like that’s something that no other platform has either, which is kind of shocking to me. Like back in 2008,

Ste (48:16.395)

Ste (48:21.948)

Adam (48:30.122)
I was working on a platform that was for sponsored tweets, like paying people to tweet. And even back then, we required people to have a hashtag ad in their tweet. That way people would know there was some form of disclosure. And the whole disclosure on social media part is such an obvious, it’s a problem with an obvious solution. It’s disclosure.

Ste (48:58.783)

Adam (49:00.542)
And I feel like that’s one thing that we hadn’t added already because it wasn’t any of the imports that we were getting. So it wasn’t something we mapped to our existing system. But I feel like having that mentioned should definitely be in our review form.

Ste (49:18.415)
Yeah, yeah that sounds great and…

Adam (49:20.538)
But yeah, what would be kind of the thoughts between having it as a review versus having it as a discussion? Because I see it more as a review, but maybe there could also be discussions in the advanced review copy setup.

Ste (49:36.863)
Yeah, that’s an interesting point because I was thinking about it as a discussion item because it would be great to receive comments on that review. So basically just a review with comments, which would make it a post typed to the book. I’m wondering actually if we keep reviews separate, if people are going to actually write reviews through the discussions board, which I think…

could be like interesting. Right now our design of the system is that you post reviews the way you post them now and discussions are like a separate part.

Ste (50:23.719)
Yeah, I’m wondering if those have any overlap or if people are gonna use it like that. I guess since we’re building discussions, we can like just do that and see if people actually like review the book for discussions. I’m really curious if people would actually do that. But yeah, marking it as having a review that is marked as.

Adam (50:25.282)

Ste (50:52.623)
sponsored is definitely like the way to go. And earlier you mentioned that we have an advantage because we also have a web platform. I think there’s a whole ecosystem out there of book bloggers that have like their own website. They have their own, they even like have widgets that right now go to Goodreads.

and they integrate them sort of like the old blogger.

uh, times when everyone had a blog because that’s the only thing you could have, but there’s like a lot of ownership in that. And if you’re like posting on a social platform, if like you’re posting on one of our competitors websites and they run out of funds at some point, your discussions are like, you can’t export them. You can’t like import them anywhere else. Your, your whole like effort going into that is gone, which I mean for a…

casual reader, it might not be much, but for a book blogger, that’s like catastrophic. We have this system where we not only like encourage content on our system, but we also like indicate their content as the primary source. So they have ownership on that content. So even from that perspective, I’m thinking, you know…

for book bloggers especially, which are like very small but very powerful niche, that would like open up a possibility of sharing their content on a network that has way more exposure in this niche and has way more weight.

Ste (52:49.183)
and functionality because we’re a book app. I mean, if you post it on Twitter, of course, you get engagement there. If you post it on Facebook, you get the engagement there, but you don’t get the functionalities. And yeah, I mean, building the thing we’re building always, you know, at first is requires like faith from everyone involved because…

is going to be a whole lot different when there are 100,000 readers, when there are a million readers on the platform. So right now it might seem for an author to sign up and send our review cup, although we have some really good reviewers on the website. So even now, if you join Hardcover as an author, you could definitely find some book reviewers, which you wouldn’t find anywhere else that would be great for your book.

Adam (53:21.38)

Ste (53:42.523)
So even now it could be like a cell, but yeah, when it actually like reaches that level where you can select from 1000 reviewers and we give you the tools to see which reviewer is like closer to what you write and closer to like once we have that, we have that data. So for an author, I mean, if I was an author that would be…

Adam (54:01.938)

Adam (54:07.846)
Yeah. It’s

Ste (54:10.015)
provide like so much clarity, which now, I mean, I’ve asked on Reddit and I was on an indie publisher, like subreddit. And yeah, the people there were not happy with the way the specific thing, our reviews, God mentioned a couple of times at least. Yeah. So.

Adam (54:30.386)
Yeah, I could definitely see that as like a big piece. And it has such a big benefit for readers too, because like, imagine if you could just like enable something that says like, allow authors to contact me for like, you know, reviewing their books, and then they just get free books or maybe they even get compensated for the books. That would be another question. It’s like, are the reviewers compensated with-

just a free book or are they compensated with cash as well?

Ste (55:02.319)
Yeah, yeah. I mean, we could definitely enable that. We’re just one stripe connection away from being able to facilitate that. But yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, we could definitely make it into a marketplace. But even just the thought of you being a reader on Hardcover, and you’re just reviewing the books you like,

somehow an author you really like respects contacts you and says, hey, do you want to like receive an advanced copy that no one has ever seen of what I’m writing? I guess that’s like, I feel like great if that would happen. And yeah, maybe the author contacts me through.

Adam (55:53.311)

Ste (56:00.327)
one, on non-account. So I don’t even know if it’s the author. As this is another thing I’ve been thinking, you know, what if our authors want to just like, where do we allow like the official author account and a hardcover, like regular user account? What if, I don’t know, what if Brandon Sanderson doesn’t wanna like, he wants to just make an account?

under a username and lurk, but also like send this to users and have users be, Oh, well crap. This really is him, but they wouldn’t know. Yeah.

Adam (56:37.95)

Adam (56:42.614)
I have a feeling that what we’ll have to do is like, everyone who signs up, whether you’re an author, a publisher, an editor, a reader, you sign up as a hardcover user. And then there would be something where like, for an author, we say like, this person is the, this user is the owner of this author. Like, they have full access to everything. They can even add new people.

Ste (56:58.683)

Adam (57:11.018)
with other roles under that. Like maybe there’s another role for like managed content or another role for, you know, allow posting as on the discussion boards. And like, so there’s one person who can like assign permissions for other people to have access to act as them. And then when you post on a discussion or…

Ste (57:22.856)

Adam (57:38.43)
Yeah, I guess it would be like when you post as a discussion. That would be like the main thing right now. You can decide if you’re posting as yourself, like the user, your hardcover user you’re logged in as, or if you’re posting as an author that you have access to.

Ste (57:52.475)
nice. Yeah, that sounds amazing.

Adam (57:54.69)

And then you could like, you know, if you’re, if you’re like a publisher, you might have access to post as 10 different authors because you’re managing 10 different books of theirs.

Ste (57:57.599)
Yeah, that makes sense.

Ste (58:10.119)
Yeah, that’s really good. Would we in this iteration allow publisher accounts because I think they’re really similar to author accounts in the sense that they share many of the features, but is there any significant difference that would make it a bad idea to have publisher accounts as well?

Adam (58:10.999)
and then, yeah.

Adam (58:39.118)
Hmm. Yeah. What would you see as the major differentiator between like an author account and a publisher account on hardcover itself?

Ste (58:48.975)
Well, it is a difference of hierarchy, I guess, because a publisher, like you said, can manage multiple authors, but that you basically like solve that through that system. Because if you’re a publisher and you can post as multiple authors, it’s just like a different relation that we’d have to like design on the front end somehow and in the back end. So I guess that would be the only one. I guess also a publisher would, you know how on…

box you have the what’s it called

pro whatever account. Let me check. It’s an account for, I guess, production houses. So, there’s members. Oh, yeah. It’s HQ members. So, you have, wait, is this it? HQ members. HQ members. So, yeah. Okay. So, HQs.

Adam (59:30.847)
Oh yeah.

Ste (59:52.643)
is for studios, distributors, festivals, theaters, podcasts, and film related organizations. So it’s for all of that. So I’m guessing maybe we can make a plan that. So the way they did it is not specifically for, uh, like a role. They don’t have like separate roles for studios for, they just have like the HQ account, so it’s kind of like that. I guess.

Adam (01:00:21.499)
Yeah. One of.

Ste (01:00:21.603)
And they also publish articles and stuff like that. I mean, yeah.

Adam (01:00:26.254)
Hmm. Yeah, that seems, yeah, it seems like if we, if we had like an author account with like a whole hierarchy of permissions under there, yeah, I think it would, I think it would enable that maybe, like if, if as part of our designs for discussions, we have like highlighted author things, which I have a feeling we should. Like, you know, this, this was

Ste (01:00:28.095)
So it could be that.

Ste (01:00:52.423)
Yes, exactly.

Adam (01:00:54.678)
This was posted by the author. This was an author replied to this post. Some way to see at a high level that the author is engaging with this discussion, then I think we need that whole, like we need a way for a reader to claim an author account as the owner and then to assign sub permissions. Might as well do them both at the same time and not just have like a one-to-one relationship. Might as well just.

Ste (01:01:04.968)

Adam (01:01:23.094)
have a one-to-many relationship from the start, because it’s always easier to design it with a one-to-many instead of design it with a one-to-one.

Ste (01:01:25.811)

Ste (01:01:31.235)
Yeah, that’s a great observation. And it’s so good we’re talking about this now because doing discussion and then figuring out how to integrate that part, yeah, I mean, this is how the app architecture should be done. And I think that whole setup would work great. We’ll have to study letterbox a bit more because I think it’s the exact same system.

Adam (01:01:49.079)

Ste (01:01:59.967)
Maybe we can even improve on it, why not? So yeah, that’s gonna be interesting. We can focus on that for the next designs and yeah, really explore the whole theme.

Adam (01:02:15.147)
Yeah, maybe like what we do is like, well, I was going to say maybe like you need a supporter plan to have multiple authors on an account because, you know, that’s a pretty…

Ste (01:02:25.951)
Well, definitely that is that should be, that should be definitely a pay, maybe even like a higher tier because if you’re, I think Leatherbox does this as well. They are their HQ plan. I think you kind of like have to sign up for a different thing. So, uh, yeah, definitely. Uh, it has to like have some premium permissions, especially because, you know, you can’t do this anywhere else. And yeah.

Adam (01:02:51.874)
But if you’re, yeah.

But if you’re just an author and you want to manage our own book, then it feels like that should be free. Like that should just be like, that’s something we want to encourage.

Ste (01:02:59.563)
Oh, yeah, that should be. Yes, especially for indie authors, because, yeah, it’s so hard to, like, get your stuff out there. I mean, I’m seeing indie authors on Twitter, on Reddit, they’re trying to promote their stuff and it’s lost in the sea of noise, so yeah, what we provide is like silence and like focus, so that’s, I think, going to be like really valuable. So, yeah.

Okay, we got that wrapped up. Well, no, it’s like the intro in it.

Adam (01:03:32.313)

Adam (01:03:35.858)
But yeah, that sounds like a good direction for how we think about how author accounts could work in relationship to discussions, which is, yeah, a new piece we haven’t really prototyped, but I think we both kind of thought about it, but hadn’t really had a good solution for it. But I think that’s a good next step.

Ste (01:03:58.095)
Yeah, definitely. I mean, we’re ruminating about it. So I guess once we hit the designs, it’s gonna be like really fast, like figuring out how to tie it all together. So yeah, that’s gonna be fun.

Adam (01:04:15.182)
Cool. Well, I want to wrap it up for today.

Ste (01:04:16.799)
with. Yes, let’s.

Adam (01:04:21.551)
Well, I will talk to you online and hopefully, I think it’s looking like this Saturday, we’re going to try to do our product on launch.

Ste (01:04:29.659)
Yeah, so everybody, if you have a Product Hunt account, you’ll receive an email from us telling you to support us on Product Hunt. And if you don’t, we’ll encourage you to create an account because we really, really need that support. And yeah, it’s going on this Saturday, what day is it? The 16th.

Adam (01:04:51.034)

Ste (01:04:53.287)
Yeah, perfect. Yeah, so we’ll have that. So yeah, everyone will answer it on Discord as well.

Perfect. Well, yeah. I’m not really, yeah. Perfect, have a good one. See all of you later. Bye bye.

Adam (01:05:04.912)
I will talk to you online this week.

Adam (01:05:09.678)
Thank you.

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