The Rise of #BookTok

todayJanuary 14, 2022 269 1 5 5

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By Hannah Brown
Web Content Contributor 

Like many others, I open TikTok in my free time for a few minutes of light-heartedness, fun and as a distraction from my day. But when I resurface, I realize I’ve spent four hours mindlessly thumb scrolling my way through a few hundred different realities.

In one corner of this vast world we have come to embrace a virtual book club and wholesome community for like-minded users to recommend books and share their love for reading. Made popular during March 2020, #BookTok has been home to 33.7 billion views to date. These short and creative videos captivate viewers and carry the opportunity to inspire non-readers to pick up a new hobby or turn a book into a bestseller.

The Resurgence of Old Publications and Impact on the Book Industry

Even with its inordinate growth, it is difficult to scroll through without seeing some of the same authors and titles, who are no strangers to the app. Thanks to TikTok, Colleen Hoover has become a recognizable young adult and new adult romance fiction author, responsible for several BookTok favorites like “It Ends With Us,” “Ugly Love” and my personal favorite, “Verity.” 

Her most recognizable work, “It Ends With Us” was published in 2016 but has found recent success and currently tops the New York Times Paperback Trade Fiction list. Her novel “Verity” which was published in 2018 is ranked fourth, while “Ugly Love” published in 2014 is eighth on the bestseller list. Colleen even has a TikTok account of her own where she interacts with viewers and shares her daily life.

Unsurprisingly, most of the books currently on The New York Times Best Sellers list I can recognize because of TikTok, half of which are not recent publications. BookTok has introduced me to some of my most treasured novels. Among my most recent reads, try “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides, a fast-paced psychological thriller that can get you out of a reading slump. In the mood for an emotional ride? “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid or “A Little Life” by Hanya Yanagihara will make you want to grab a tissue or two. Maybe you want a book that makes you feel like you’re on summer vacation? “Beach Read” or “People We Meet on Vacation” by Emily Henry can give you that snug midsummer feeling. In need of other recommendations? Check out this TikTok by creator @lbhreads of her favorite popular and unpopular reads!

Prior to this new and organic engagement, one hot commodity amongst audiences was in the young adult category. But thanks to TikTok, audiences of all ages are being exposed to a profusion of genres they otherwise may have never given a second glance. Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest retail bookseller, has embraced the power and the impact that BookTok has created. Prominent displays throughout their stores and a dedicated section on their website invite those both on and off TikTok to see the most talked-about books. 

A table stacked with a variety of books in the middle of a bookstore. There is a sign reading #BookTok in the center of the display.
An assortment of recommendations on display waiting to be read.

The impact this community has created has not gone unnoticed and will collaboratively benefit the industry and decide what and how we will read in the future. Long gone are the days of anticipated releases dominating the title of being a bestseller. Leave it to these creators to push books into consumers’ hands. And rest assured, as long as BookTok is around, the enticement of a quality book will not go anywhere.

Featured Image by Hannah Brown

Written by: ktsw899

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