Tiktok’s booktok community leaves its mark on the publishing industry

TikTok is leaving its mark on the world of publishing through its BookTok community, where users discuss and recommend books. With over 1 billion regular users, TikTok’s influence on book sales is growing. BookTok videos have been viewed 240 billion times, and around 9.3 million people have watched a video featuring books. TikTok’s impact on physical book sales is particularly notable due to its visual nature. Publishers and authors are still figuring out how to navigate TikTok’s influence, while TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, plans to launch its own book publisher.

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TikTok, the social media platform with over 1 billion regular users, is making its mark on the publishing industry through its BookTok community. BookTok is a community of users on the app who discuss and recommend books and has become one of the largest communities on TikTok. Videos tagged with #reading, #books, and #literature have garnered a staggering 240 billion views, showcasing the platform’s significant influence on book-related content.

In a viral video viewed by around 9.3 million people, a user called “buryme.withmybooks” showcases eight books that they would sell their soul to read again for the first time. The video features meticulously annotated books by authors such as Simone de Beauvoir, Elena Ferrante, and Sally Rooney and has been saved by almost 400,000 users for future reference.

While the direct impact of TikTok on book sales is relatively small, with video platforms driving only about 3% of sales in 2022 in Britain, its influence is growing, especially among women aged 54 and younger. This demographic is more likely to engage with the app and make book purchases influenced by TikTok recommendations. BookTok has become a significant platform for creating literary stars and unearthing unlikely past ones, bringing attention to new releases and older titles that gain renewed popularity through aesthetics or media adaptations.

BookTok’s influence extends beyond the virtual world and into physical bookstores. TikTok’s visual nature has made physical books more appealing, as users showcase annotations and flip through pages in their videos. A survey by Nielsen reveals that 80% of Brits aged 14-25 prefer print books, further emphasizing the impact of BookTok on physical book sales.

However, the influence of TikTok on the publishing industry has left many authors and publishers puzzled. Some bestselling authors, including Colleen Hoover, do not have TikTok accounts, while publishers’ official TikTok accounts are relatively unpopular. Navigating the app and harnessing its influence requires publishers to keep up with trends and make marketing adjustments to capitalize on the momentum generated by BookTok.

Interestingly, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, plans to launch its own book publisher and is reportedly in discussions to sign romance writers. This development adds a plot twist, as a Chinese company owning one of the most influential platforms for young people’s free expression in the West becomes involved in the publishing industry.

Source: The Economist