Over the last couple of years, TikTok became a social media with the biggest and fastest growth in the world. Based on the data from Insider Intelligence, TikTok saw a 59.8% growth in 2020, followed by a 40.8% growth in 2021, and is predicted to reach 755.0 million users in 2022.
Along with that massive growth, there’s a plethora of content circulating around, from viral dance moves, recipes, pranks, and recently “BookTok”. BookTok is a community based on TikTok that focuses on books and literature. Creators usually show book reviews, recommendations, hauls, and even their bookshelves setup. Sometimes, they also posts short video montages of clips or pictures that they feel describe the book best.
The trend started in 2020 when TikTok user @caitsbooks posted her video and it gained popularity. This encouraged more people to start posting and eventually grow their audience. Now, they can even get recognized by publishing houses and get early access to books. What’s more interesting is that there are a lot of books that became popular and have a significant increase in sales, or even became best-selling titles due to their popularity within the BookTok community. Some of these books have been out for years, others are reaching a decade old.
Source: The Guardian
Novels that tend to do well on BookTok mainly came from the fantasy romance genre. One of the best examples of this phenomenon is a book by Colleen Hoover titled ‘It Ends With Us’. This romance novel has been out for more than four years when Hoover and her publishing company, Atria, saw a sudden uptick in sales. They first noticed a bump in November 2020, and in the summer of 2021, weekly sales averaged to 17,000 copies. Libby McGuire, VP and publisher at Atria said that they have gone back to press 24 times since November to keep up with demands. As of now, the book has nearly reached 450,000 copies sold since its release in 2016, according to BookScan.
Another one would be “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart. The book has been out since 2014 and when sales bumps up out of the blue in 2020, she was shocked and confused, and was later informed by her kids that her book has gone viral on TikTok. The hashtag #WeWereLiars now has more than 83 million views.
The pandemic has a lot to do with this trend. With people staying inside and going through quarantine, most of us are jumping from one hobby to another to pass time and a lot fell back in love with reading. Some people stopped reading in school when it was mandatory, so now being re-introduced to books from a growing social media platform such as TikTok and being a part of this community is a breath of fresh air.
Nowadays, many creators are getting more and more creative with their content. One of the most popular BookTok content is a prompt where they’ll recommend books that fit the description best, like how @moongirlreads_ put “Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller under the prompt “books that will make you sob”. Similar to other books, this novel saw a spike in sales back in August 2020, despite the book being released 8 years earlier in 2012.
As mentioned earlier, publishing companies and bookstores have started to realize that they can capitalize on this trend to scale up revenue. They send out free books and do paid campaigns with these BookTokers hoping that their book could be the next big thing. On the other hand, many bookstores, like Barnes and Noble now have their own “BookTok” section on the website and offline store. They sometimes put stickers saying things like “Most Loved Book on TikTok” and so on to increase awareness.
Source: Barnes and Noble on Facebook
Now, BookTok is one of the most popular pillars on TikTok, where the hashtag alone received 37 billion views and counting. So, are there any books that you found from BookTok? Comment down below!
- New York Times. How Crying on TikTok Sells Books. 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/20/books/booktok-tiktok-video.html.
- NPR. TikTok is driving book sales. Here are some titles #BookTok recommends. 2021. https://www.npr.org/2021/12/26/1068063564/booktok-is-a-new-force-driving-book-sales-and-publishing-deals.
- TechCrunch. TikTok to rank as the third largest social network, 2022 forecast notes. 2021. https://techcrunch.com/2021/12/20/tiktok-to-rank-as-the-third-largest-social-network-2022-forecast-notes/#:~:text=In%20its%20inaugural%20forecast%20on,by%2040.8%25%20growth%20in%202021.
- The Guardian. The rise of BookTok: meet the teen influencers pushing books up the charts. 2021. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/jun/25/the-rise-of-booktok-meet-the-teen-influencers-pushing-books-up-the-charts.