BookTok: the unexpected mix of social media and reading

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Ruby Garza, Writer

BookTok is a popular sub-community on the app TikTok where users can share anything pertaining to books such as recommendations, popular book discussions and reviews. The hashtag “BookTok” currently has over 29 billion views, while other hashtags that relate to BookTok have somewhere between 100 thousand to a billion views. Although any book can be shared on BookTok, the main genres tend to fit a younger but mature audience, which is why YA novels, romance, mystery and fantasy tend to be the most popular. 

TikTok’s algorithm morphs everything it shows viewers into something they want to see, which greatly helps viewers who are in need of a new book to read. Readers have found that BookTok has helped be a better and easier way to find a good book and information rather than buying a book readers might know nothing about and then having the possibility of disliking it. BookTok not only helps readers save time when it comes to finding a book they are interested in but it also helps reduce anxiety on finding the right book. 

With the rise of popularity BookTok has been receiving, many authors and retail stores are noticing an influx in sales and views. In the article “TikTok is taking the book industry by storm, and retailers are taking notice,” Conor Murray goes in depth about the correlation of increase in sales with BookTok. In the article, author of “They Both Die at the End,” Adam Silvera had lots to say about his experience with BookTok and its viewers and how it has affected his sales. Silvera said, “I kept commenting to my readers, ‘Hey, don’t know what’s happening, but there’s been a surge in sales lately, so grateful that everybody’s finding the story years later’.’’ BookTok has had a notable amount of impact on sales that can really give many books more of an opportunity to be in the spotlight once again even after years of their initial release. Silvera said, “And then that’s when a reader was like, ‘I’m seeing it on BookTok.’ And I had no idea what they were talking about.” Many retailers are seeing the correlation between sales and the power BookTok can hold over a book’s popularity. Because of this retailers such as Barnes and Nobles have been keeping up with the latest BookTok trends and have started making BookTok its own section in their stores. Readers can walk into a Barnes and Nobles and expect to see a table full of the latest BookTok books, as well as find a BookTok section on their website

BookTok restores students enjoyment in reading

Lots of students who are interested in reading utilize BookTok as an easy source of finding books that fit their interests. TikTok is known for having personalized “for you” feeds, which shows users videos that TikTok’s algorithm thinks they would enjoy based on their interactions with previous videos they have seen. The algorithm has helped show users books that fit their interests or genres which makes it easy for readers to find a new book to read. Ava Kleeberger, a sophomore, has recently gotten back into reading. Kleeberger said, “It’s really overwhelming to go into a bookstore and go through pages and read the back of every book, trying to find a book I wouldn’t have known existed until I found it.”

It’s really overwhelming to go into a bookstore and go through pages and read the back of every book, trying to find a book I wouldn’t have known existed until I found it.”

— Ava Kleeberger

As the academic demands grew, many found that they had fallen out of their past enjoyment of reading. But with the help of BookTok, which is the right amount of social media and book entertainment, students found that they have been able to get back into reading books they enjoy. Kleeberger said, “I didn’t read for almost the entirety of middle school, because nothing was interesting after I finished all the big popular series that everybody loved. I think when you have this big space with tons of people sharing genres and everything it helps you get engaged with reading again.” With all the different content on books available on BookTok, it has become easier for readers to get back into their old reading habits. 

One of the best ways for students to get better at their reading skills is by actively reading. So not only has BookTok helped students get back into reading, but it has also improved their reading skills. Sophomore Sadie Fox said, ”I think when you’re forced to read books academically it’s really difficult to enjoy it, and I don’t think that I would be able to enjoy English classes if I didn’t get back into reading. So I think getting back into books has helped ease myself into harder comprehension levels, which definitely improved my reading.” TikTok has evolved by creating a platform for students to further their reading skills. 

BookTok was an unexpected wave that hit the reading community this past year. It has brought benefit to not only readers, and students but also authors. The unexpected but perfect mix of social media and reading that BookTok is has greatly influenced many in a positive way.