BookTok is a subcommunity on the app TikTok that focuses on books and literature. Creators make videos reviewing, discussing, and joking about the books they read. These books range in genre, but many creators tend to focus on young adult fiction, young adult fantasy, and romance. The community is cited with impacting the publishing industry and book sales. The creators in this community are also known as BookTokers.
Videos posted by creators range in content, with a large majority focusing on book reviews, book recommendations, book hauls and bookcase setups. Some creators will concentrate on specific genres, BIPOC and LGBTQ authors, or even publicizing their own works through their posts, while others post tributes and recommendations for books published years prior. The BookTok creators are predominantly teenagers and young women, and predominantly focus on young adult fiction, young adult fantasy, and romance.
BookTok as a community was formed in 2020 during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This boost in the community led to an increase in popularity in BookTokers, and many of them now have hundreds of thousands of followers. By 2021, publishers began to reach out to popular creators to collaborate with them to promote specific titles or offer free books.
In December 2021, a BookTok community member sent out dozens of packages to other users which contained a newly published book and a coded message to create intrigue around the new book. The message was decoded within the month by a group of BookTokers called The Scooby Gang (@amivireads, @booksandbants, @caitsbooks, @ermreading, @frances.books, @sapphichobbit, @grapiedeltaco, @shanae0599, and @toriandbooks). Melissa Blair (@melissas.bookshelf), an Anishinaabei user, was revealed to be the author through a video posted by @sapphichobbit, and the book sold about 4,000 copies in the weeks prior. Other authors who post content using the BookTok tag have noticed that books sell more, and they can stay connected or specifically target potential buyers through the hashtag and other specific ones that apply to their books.
Impact on sales and publishing Edit
TikTok videos of people recommending books led to a significant increase in sales. Several books found their way onto The New York Times Bestseller list due to BookTok videos. In some cases, the books that received this boost in sales were nearly a decade old, while other books gained popularity ahead of their release. Books can become popular on the app due to either a genuine love for them by the readers, or due to shock and jokes about the subject matter, as seen with the science fantasy romance novel Ice Planet Barbarians.
Both authors and publishers began to notice the increase in sales due to BookTok. Authors began to make their own BookTok accounts, while publishers made accounts for their company and sponsored popular BookTokers to promote their titles. Large publishers would also buy the rights to publish books by independent authors who gained popularity on the app. The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake was self-published via Kindle in 2020 and became a viral "BookTok sensation." The fantasy novel was acquired by Tor Books and re-published with revisions in 2021.
Bookstores such as Barnes and Noble have noticed BookTok's ability to drive sales, and have incorporated into their stores. Many Barnes and Noble stores have BookTok displays, featuring popular books on the app, and the company also has a section of their site dedicated to these books. Many retailers view BookTok as an organic marketing method, as readers find what is trending through the posts and want to read the books in order to engage with the community.
Some members of the community agree with the organic feel of marketing within the community, as it gives the readers more control over what books are popular. Others argue that it can create an echo chamber about which books should be read.
Popular BookTok books Edit
"BookTok Books" are the books discussed most frequently on the platform, and often have had a large increase in sales due to it. These books include:
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
- The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
- Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon 
- It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
- The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
- The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
- My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
- The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
- They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
- These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
- Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros
See also Edit
- "BookTok boon is changing the publishing world". spectrumnews1.com. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
- Harris, Elizabeth A. (2020-03-20). "How Crying on TikTok Sells Books". The New York Times. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
- Hue, Angelina (September 18, 2021). "TikTok is turning decade-old books into bestsellers for the first time as it inspires a reading renaissance". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 2021-09-18. Retrieved 2021-10-02.
- Culoso, Ava (2021-09-30). "The Next Literary Frontier: The Rise of BookTok". The Hoya. Archived from the original on 2021-10-02. Retrieved 2021-10-02.
- "The rise of BookTok: meet the teen influencers pushing books up the charts". the Guardian. 2021-06-25. Retrieved 2021-10-02.
- Stewart, Sophia (September 3, 2021). "How TikTok Makes Backlist Books into Bestsellers". PublishersWeekly.com. Archived from the original on 2021-09-04. Retrieved 2021-10-02.
- Zarroli, Jim (December 26, 2021). "'BookTok' is a new force driving book sales and publishing deals". NPR.org. Retrieved 2021-12-27.
- "How A Mysterious Novel Went Viral On TikTok & Changed The Publishing Game". Bustle. Retrieved 2022-03-19.
- Papineau, Chelsea (2021-12-16). "Booktok mystery solved, author identity revealed". Northern Ontario. Archived from the original on 2021-12-16. Retrieved 2021-12-27.
- Sleightholm, Brent (December 21, 2021). "New book explores what 'colonialism would look like in a fantasy world'". SooToday.com. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22. Retrieved 2021-12-27.
- Singer, Jessica (August 29, 2021). "BookTok's novel approach to books is helping Canadian authors, retailers attract new audiences". CBC. Archived from the original on 2021-08-29. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
- "TikTok is taking the book industry by storm, and retailers are taking notice". NBC News. 2021-07-05. Archived from the original on 2021-07-05. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
- AJ Willingham. "How sexy blue aliens invaded Amazon's bestseller lists". CNN. Retrieved 2021-10-02.
- Bussel, Rachel Kramer. "Viral Science Fiction Romance 'Ice Planet Barbarians' By Ruby Dixon To Get Print Edition In November". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-10-02.
- "The Atlas Six: The Dark Fantasy Viral Sensation is the Real Deal". pastemagazine.com. 2022-03-03. Retrieved 2022-11-22.
- "The Atlas Six". Macmillan. Retrieved 2022-11-22.
- "How TikTok Makes Backlist Books into Bestsellers". PublishersWeekly.com. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
- Noble, Barnes &. "The Most Popular TikTok Books #BookTok". Barnes & Noble. Retrieved 2021-09-10.
- Franklin, Maddy (September 11, 2021). "The rise of BookTok and Bookstagram: UGA readers find community on social media". The Red and Black. Archived from the original on 2021-09-09. Retrieved 2021-10-02.
- Olito, Frank. "15 books everyone must read in their lifetime, according to TikTok". Insider. Retrieved 2021-10-02.
- "As 'The Atlas Six' author Olivie Blake went into labor, her book went viral on TikTok". Daily News. 2022-03-15. Retrieved 2022-12-01.
- "TikTok fuels new surge in teen reading habits". The Suffolk Times. 2021-07-13. Retrieved 2021-09-21.
- Helm, Jake (2021-03-31). "BookTok: the TikTok trend sending old books up bestseller lists". www.standard.co.uk. Retrieved 2021-10-02.
- Grindell, Samantha (May 26, 2023). "I read the TikTok-viral fantasy novel 'Fourth Wing' and it lived up to the hype".
- #BookTok on TikTok