It is an incredibly exciting time to be a reader, an author, and a publisher. Opportunities to engage audiences are endless – new devices now support numerous ways of reading, publishing, and reaching readers.

HarperCollins is issuing a call to developers to create excellent, functioning software and proof of concept apps utilizing the HarperCollins OpenBook API, and in doing so turn opportunities into reality.

HarperCollins invites one and all to develop new ways of reading and discovering books and authors. This is a chance for developers to experiment and play with the HarperCollins OpenBookAPI, which features exclusive book data, author data, and content not available to the general public. These tools will allow developers to think about how to make readers fall in love with books all over again, and how to lead a reluctant reader to just the right story.

The OpenBookAPI is intended for development and noncommercial use only. The API includes full access to select authors' works that have been made available specifically for BookSmash and cannot be distributed without HarperCollins written approval. After the close of the competition developers may apply for an extended "developer key." 


Participants: Individuals at least the age of majority where they reside at the time of entry; Teams of eligible individuals; Organizations (up to 50 employees).

Large Organization Participants: Organizations with over 50 employees may compete for the non-cash HarperCollins Recognition Award.

Complete Eligibility Requirements


What to create: (1) a functioning proof-of-concept app which uses the OpenBook API and is NOT available to the public; (2) a Youtube or Vimeo video that walks through the main functionality of the app via screencast or video; (3) one or more screenshots of your app; and (4) access to your app for testing/judging, such as a URL, installation file or shared test build via TestFlight.

Platforms:  Android, Blackberry, iOS, Windows Phone, mobile web/web, PC, Mac.

New & Existing Apps: Apps may be newly created or pre-existing. If the app existed prior to the start of the competition, it must not have previously included the OpenBook API and must include new features and functionality added after June 6, 2013.

Complete Submission Requirements

Hackathon Sponsors


$25,000 in prizes

Grand Prize


Popular Choice

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:

How to enter

  1. Click “Register” to sign up.
  2. Visit the HarperCollins OpenBook API Developer pages to apply for an API key. Be sure to check the “BookSmash Challenge Participant” box to indicate that you are a BookSmash participant.
  3. Visit the Resources page for app ideas and links to OpenBook documentation.
  4. Create a working proof-of-concept app* that uses the OpenBook API, or update an existing app to include the OpenBook API! **
  5. Create a demonstration video (YouTube or Vimeo) that walks through the main functionality of the app via screencast or video.
  6. Provide a way for us to access your app by including an installation file with your submission, sharing a test build via TestFlight, or by providing a password-protected link where your web app can be accessed for testing and judging.
  7. Submit your app by providing: 1) access to your app for testing; 2) screenshots of your working app; 3) a video (YouTube/ Vimeo) demonstrating your working app.

*Proof-of-concept apps which include the OpenBook API content must not be made available to the public. The OpenBook API contains exclusive content provided for BookSmash and is intended for personal and noncommercial use only. Apps must be native smartphone or tablet apps (iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Mobile), or web apps (mobile or desktop), or desktop apps (Windows PC, Mac Desktop).

**If you're submitting an existing app (developed prior to this competition), you must make sure that: A) it didn't use the OpenBook API before the competition, B) it includes new features and functionality added after June 6, 2013, and C) the version submitted (which includes OpenBook API content) is not made available to the public.


Steve Rosenbaum

Steve Rosenbaum

Paul Vidich

Paul Vidich
Advisor, Rockstar Music, Inc.

Erik Lammerding

Erik Lammerding
Co-founder, N3TWORK

Mike Edelhart

Mike Edelhart
CEO, LiveDeal, Inc.

Chantal Restivo-Alessi

Chantal Restivo-Alessi
Chief Digital Officer, HarperCollins Publishers

Sam Mendal

Sam Mendal
Head of Corporate Development, betaworks

Mark Tauber

Mark Tauber
Senior Vice President and Publisher, HarperOne

Judging Criteria

  • Quality of Idea
    Includes creativity and originality.
  • Implementation of Idea
    Includes how well the idea was executed by the developer and how well the app integrates with the OpenBook API.
  • Potential Impact
    Includes the potential impact on publishing and readers.

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