About Hardcover

Adam FortunaAvatar for Adam Fortuna

By Adam Fortuna

5 min read

Hardcover was started in May 2021 after Goodreads announced they were discontinuing their API. At the time, I (hi 👋, I’m Adam!) was using that API to show what books I’d recently read on my blog. It would automatically update just by using GR. It worked great!

But when they announced the API was going away, that lit a fire under me to find (or make) a replacement. After some research and forming a team, we’ve been working to create an Amazon-free alternative ever since!

We’re a tiny team of 3 people working part-time for equity to build something we believe in. We have not taken any startup funding, and are instead self-funding the project until it becomes profitable (🤞).

You can read more about the vision by reading our manifesto, see 13 reasons why we’re building a better Goodreads, or check out our most recent release to see what we’re up to.

Get to the Know the Team

Adam Fortuna

Founder, Full-stack Product Developer, April 2021 – now

Hardcover was founded by Adam Fortuna (he/him), a full-stack product developer living in Salt Lake City, UT. That’s the last time I’ll be using third person in this post. 😅

I’ve previously worked at social media startups in the past, and more recently as Course Director & Product Director at Code School helping teach people how to code with interactive courses on jQuery, Ember, Angular, R, React, Ruby, Ruby on Rails and many more (so long as it has an R in it, I guess).

Since Code School was acquired by Pluralsight and went public in 2018, I’ve taken some time off to work on personal project – Hardcover being his primary focus for the last two years.

I wasn’t much of a reader in school. In fact, I focused much more on anything computer related. In that way I grew up more with social media than with books (IRC and LiveJournal still hold a special place in my heart).

After college I started listening to audiobooks and that changed my entire relationship with books. I went from reading 1-2 books a year to dozens and then hundreds (well, hundred). I started picking up more physical and digital books and reading on multiple platforms. Today I read about one physical book for every 2 to 3 audiobooks.

In addition to starting Hardcover because of the API change, I was also attempting to ween myself away from big tech – especially Amazon.

Buying more locally and switching from Audible to Libro.fm and Libby were the easy parts. Switching away from Goodreads was harder.

I’ve been a huge fan of Letterbox for years (you follow me on there too!) and wanted something that felt like that for books. That’s been one of my north stars while building Hardcover.

I occasionally write on my blog AdamFortuna.com about personal growth, tech and whatever I’m currently passionate about or about investing at Minafi.com.

Follow @adam on Hardcover.

Stelian Dobrescu

Co-founder, Designer, Front-end Development, July 2021 – now

Ste is a designer and all-round builder. Currently living in London with his wife, son and cat. Ste does design system architecture, code UI with Tailwind in Next JS, and works on products that he finds meaningful and fun.

Ste has been working on Hardcover with Adam since July 2021, when he was the first one to reply to Adam’s message, seeking people to build a book site out of spite for Amazon.

Follow @ste on Hardcover.

Daniel Prindii

Marketing & Community, May 2023 – now

Community and Marketing Strategist living in Transylvania, Romania.

Daniel previously worked as Head of Community & People at UpStack – a B2B remote staffing company.

His passion for books translated in a growing personal library of around 3000 books, a podcast, a job as a Cultural PR at a publishing house and a lot of book notes.

You can find him at danielprindii.com, on Hardcover or reading some niche medieval books.

Follow @danielprindii on Hardcover.

We’re Looking for Help!

Hardcover is a community project. We’d love to get to the point where those of us working on it can make a salary that supports a modest lifestyle – but we’re far from that today.

If you’re interested in joining a group of passionate readers creating something fun in the book space, with a fair equity model of ownership (everyone makes the same rate, equity is based on time + money invested), and your skills could help us out, I’d love to chat! Here’s who we’re currently on the lookout for.

React & Ruby on Rails Developer

We’re on the lookout for a full-stack developer who could join our team and handle all parts of the app. We’re not yet big enough to need specialty roles (front end, backend). Currently Adam handles all of this, and it’d be nice to have someone to work with on it (and not always be a bottleneck 😅).

Right now our front-end for the website, iOS and Android apps is a Next.js/React app running on Vercel. That app connects to a GraphQL Hasura backend running on Hasura Cloud. The real backend is a Ruby on Rails app running on Heroku.

You can see a diagram of our entire architecture if you’re curious. The entire app can be started locally using Docker Compose.

We’re using Ruby on Rails a little differently than most people. It’s only used as an API and an admin interface using ActiveAdmin.

Almost all actions on Hardcover that involve showing data skip Rails altogether (they just use Hasura + Postgres). It’s only when a logged in reader does something that we hit the Rails API. In other words, we don’t have a GraphQL API in rails. The Rails APIs are all just REST endpoints.

We’re looking for someone who understands React & Rails, has a solid grasp of Git and GitHub, understands GraphQL, is a solid communicator (!), is focused on writing clean, organized code, can write tests (we test the important bits), and likes the idea of being able to develop something and ship it!

As much as we’d love to mentor someone in this position, we’re not at a place where we have the time for that just yet. We’re looking for someone who can hit the ground running on Ruby, Rails, React and GraphQL.

We ask team members to contribute 10 or more hours a week most weeks. We meet in person as a team once every two weeks to chat synchronously, while all other communication is async on Discord.

In exchange for joining you’ll earn equity in Hardcover at the same rate as everyone else on the team!

If this sounds interesting, please reach out to Adam via email at adam at hardcover.app.

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