The Rise of #Booktok: How the Love of Reading Has Spurred Sales Through Social Media

Feb 4, 2022 — Markerly Editorial Team, 3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

There is a home for every interest on TikTok: comedy, memes, dances, edits, and product recommendations, just to name a few. However, these product recommendations tend to revolve around clothing, makeup, or home decor. In the past several months a new topic has been gaining popularity — books. Now, there is a whole “side” of TikTok related to this content, and it is referred to as #BookTok. 

BookTok is home to a community of users, not necessarily influencers, who share a love of reading and want to recommend their favorite finds to their viewers. Some popular themes range from standard book reviews all the way to ‘Convincing you to read my favorite books by reading you the first line.’ As #BookTok gains traction, the content continues to become even more creative. 

BookTok inspires people to reread their favorites or add some new titles to their “to be read” list. Since people have been spending more time at home, reading offers an escape from our own world. Not only does reading offer solace during the many hard months we have all endured, but it creates a community – a community of people all over the world who share the same passions and are able to create relationships with others through the platform of social media. It makes us feel less alone and that our ideas and interests can be shared with others and perhaps make a positive impact in other people’s lives. 

These methods of recommending products have been very successful because they are authentic. Most users aren’t being paid to promote these products or expect some sort of gain from sharing their ideas with the world. They might want to just promote their favorite authors or find other users who are fans of the same stories. Seeing these videos doesn’t feel like watching a commercial, but rather a good friend talking to you about the last book they read and giving you all the juicy details. Real connections matter, and that is why this form of advertising is so important. When people share their ideas with the world and are unapologetically open about what they love and how it makes them feel, people resonate with it. 

BookTok isn’t just filled with book recommendations, but also timelapses of users reading, organizing their bookshelves, suggesting story tropes based on zodiac signs, and recording their reaction to tear-jerking endings. The content is endless. The BookTok hashtag now has over 37 billion views, and it is continuing to grow. Needless to say, this spurred sales of classic novels, popular books, and works written by authors still trying to get their names out there. 

TikTok has caused classic novels to gain new readers and helped some books from years ago return to the bestseller list. An example is “We Were Liars,” written by E. Lockhart. The author was shocked to see the book back on the best-seller list, and later learned that TikTok was to thank. Another book, “The Song of Achilles,” is selling around nine times as well as it did when it won the Orange Prize back in 2012.  Publishers and booksellers are beginning to take notice of this impact, too. 

Barnes & Noble stores now have BookTok tables set up with books that are popular under the hashtag, such as “The Cruel Prince.” Some publishing companies have reached out to popular creators to promote certain books by either giving them the products for free or contributing some form of payment. Tiktok has created such an impact on book sales that other social media sites don’t compete. 

The main takeaway? Connections matter. There are niches for all kinds of interests, and these communities are incredibly impactful. Open and honest communication will grab the attention of others and this organic content can increase sales. It isn’t just limited to books, however. It can be anything, but it is all about finding the right audience and giving them the platform to find others who are passionate about the same topics.

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