BookTok Influencers and Their Impact on the Publishing Industry


Every once in a while, lighting in a bottle happens. The introduction of TikTok as a new social media platform caught an unexpected wave with the Covid-19 quarantine in 2020. It is one of those situations that could not have been anticipated by even the most savvy marketing managers. When BookTok began from a simple video by the account @caitbooks in 2020, no one could predict that it would be the origin story of a community that would change the face of modern publishing. Within the slurry of soundbites, TikTok dances, and pranks, the subculture of #BookTok rose into the arena with surprising strength. As of March 2022, #BookTok has amassed 45.8 Billion views and shows no signs of losing momentum.

BookTok Influencers

The BookTok Community

The attraction of BookTok is fairly obvious: having a community of like-minded readers who can open you up to a world of new book recommendations. It feels like a virtual book club with a community of users who feel like friends. Julia J Hynek wrote an article for The Harvard Crimson titled “BookTok: The Last Wholesome Place On The Internet”. Indeed BookTok is a refreshingly wholesome corner of the internet, even with book suggestions that have more than a little bit of… spice.

There are trends within the movement such as “5 Books To Read To Get Out Of A Reading Slump”, “10 Books Everyone Must Read”, “The Books That Made Me Cry”, etc. all with an array of options that introduce you to books that may never have graced the mainstream without the aid of social media. This community and movement brought older books such as Dracula, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Crime and Punishment, The Trial, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Native Son, and others back into the mainstream, acting as an introduction for those who were unaware of hidden gems. Within this platform, niche genres were shared such as Russian Literature, Femanist Short Stories, and Surrealist works by authors that aren’t well known.

By sharing personal favorites, it’s a kind of introduction to the user who recommended it. The books provide a window into the mind of those suggesting, creating a form of connection and vulnerability which is refreshing on a superficial platform. There is a unique bond between those who have read the same book that left them crying, introduced them to their fictional crush, or inspired them. BookTok gets to the heart of shared experiences in a wholesome and distinctly human way. To find someone who loves the same series, or shares a One True Pairing (OTP) is to fast track a connection by finding mutual ground. For some, BookTok acts as a kind of Bumble for readers who want to find their people.

BookTok Influencers

Rebranding the identity of “The Reader”

Perhaps without our knowledge, we made reading as an adult a dower experience. To be a reader as a child means having access to amazing genres of young adult literature that offer adventure, fantasy, humor, and imagination. Then when adulthood creeps up we are expected to replace our favorite books with more intellectual capital. Though biographies, memoirs, and academically acclaimed books can be enjoyed, BookTok is actively rebelling against the misconceptions that more mystical, imaginative, irreverent, or just downright fluff reads, can’t be openly enjoyed by adults. In doing this, reading is no longer a pretentious pastime, but an enjoyable hobby. Julia J Hynek recognizes, “BookTok, on the other hand, removes the intellectualized perceptions of literature and instead welcomes genres that have been previously stigmatized back into the fold.” In short, readers who stumble onto this pocket of the internet are given carte blanche to indulge in a Peter Pan effect, with BookTok acting as a public Neverland. BookTok actively rebuffs the belief that a 30 something who loves to reread their favorite books from childhood or peruse the Young Adult Literature section is somehow stunted intellectually or emotionally. In contrast, within BookTok, there is an accepted escapism and a culture that is unique to those who immerse themselves within literature.

Rethinking the Power Dynamic

As with most individuals who amass a large following, there are now BookTok influencers such as Kevin Norman, Amy Jordan, Kelsey Zagat, Elizabeth Black, and dozens more who are acting as Zagat guides for eager readers. Rather than browsing the stacks at Barnes & Noble or searching through Audible, TikTok has become the reader, reviewer, and advertiser for books. BookTok has cultivated a unique power that has revolutionized reading culture. Books now are able to go viral, riding the wave of trending audio or challenges by applying them to their favorite fictional characters. This is a power dynamic that lays all the cards in the hands of the consumer. It’s true that the consumer was always the make or break factor for a book’s success, however this social media modernization has made the reader the one to push a book into the spotlight and then maintain its visibility and relevance by incorporating it into popular trends.

Rather than fighting for advertising, TikTok users are both the architect and engineer when it comes to the publicity of a book, drawing the blueprint of successful marketing and then constructing upon it with a finesse and authenticity that exceeds the attempts of traditional marketing. When a book falls into the hands of a member of BookTok, they make videos hailing it, overlay trending audio or trending soundbites are used in hypothetical scenarios to make it as though the characters themselves were speaking. In this process, the reader is allowed to have the loudest voice in the conversation, riding on the book club atmosphere previously mentioned, and extracts humor and humanity from the reading experience. In short, they don’t allow the book to be taken too seriously. They are revered, loved, obsessed over, yes, but they never enter the untouchable elitism that’s been inflicted on classic literature.


Traditional Publishing In The Rise of Self Publishing

When it comes to acknowledging the impact of BookTok, the numbers don’t lie. According to Publishers Weekly, NPR, and Forbes, TikTok drove book sales to over 825 million print books sold in 2021, which is the highest amount on record. Within the rise of public availability, as well as the relaxed nature of BookTok, traditional publishing has had to accept that in order to maintain their place in the literary world, they’d need to place themselves in the race.

The strong “us and them” attitude of publishing makes it seem like an insiders club that only a few had the key to and developed an elitist reputation that made many authors feel their work was not worthy of publishing. In short, publishers became gatekeepers. Here is where many recent authors found a loophole through self publishing. Without the pressure of acquiring a literary agent to even place your work in the pile of hundreds of other hopeful writers, on the desks of dozens of prestigious publishing houses, most authors cut out the middleman and publish online. Wattpad has become just one of many popular platforms for people to share original works and fanfiction.


The landscape of publishing has changed drastically, and the publishing houses have learned to change with it. Penguin House, one of the most well known publishing houses, developed a TikTok account to bring themselves back into relevance and to scout out prospective works. Indeed many have employees scrolling through sites like Wattpad, Archive of Our Own, even to see potential books.

Elena Armas’ book The Spanish Love Deception, Ali Hazelwood’s The Love Hypothesis, and other BookTok darlings were found and published from this process.

The Author Influencer

Yet another character that has morphed in the narrative arc of modern book culture is The Author. In the past, authors only rose from the shadows into visibility after they already achieved success through good reviews, high sales, and diligent advertising. Now some authors are gaining their acclaim before the book is even published. Once again, the traditional publishing process is being redefined, with some authors offering a kind of soft launch of their books on BookTok, sharing worldbuilding, characters, and potential plots through videos. Many other authors that have risen to acclaim through their books falling into BookTok’s “Must Read List” are now active users of the app that caused their success.

For many decades, authors were not given much publicity unless they had reached JK Rowling or Stephen King levels of fame. On TikTok, the author is now a part of the dialogue. They are allowed a rarified access to their audience through social media. Now, authors are able to duet videos about their book, they can read comments celebrating or criticizing their work in an unfiltered way. Having authors so available to their readers is a double edged sword. On one hand, it demystifies them from being a picture and quick bio on the back cover, to a flesh and blood person that displays the humor, intelligence, and process which created a work that is enjoyed by thousands. On the other hand, such accessibility to the author can make them vulnerable to burning criticism and overly influence their future writing. It can also place crippling expectations on them. The obsessions of BookTok are consuming, making diehard fans who elevate books like The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, to cult status.

To follow up something that was so loved and adored can invoke immense pressure on the author. Every work, every series, every character and plot, will be compared to that one work. The need to chase the high of that initial success can leave some authors anxious when producing another work.

Inspiration vs. Audience?

It’s the age-old question: do writers write for themselves, or the reader? In the fear of becoming a one-hit-wonder some may feel the need to pander to audience expectations rather than following their creative instincts or passions. Though there are some authors who have the benefit of a dedicated fanbase who love them because of their writing style, there is always an initial risk that the subsequent works may not be received. It’s a russian roulette process that can result in authors potentially removing the risk and following a formula. Though this may garner some audience satisfaction, the power of BookTok is their appreciation for authenticity.

In limiting the writing to satisfy the audience, their writing could become a consumer product rather than a work of art, creativity, or enjoyment. BookTok has called out many readers’ dedication to specific tropes, such as fake relationships, enemies-to-lovers, or the dark haired morally gray character with biting sarcasm and raw charisma, resulting in entire inside jokes, trends, and even whole genre sections dedicated to them. If an author has established their career on the foundation of a reliable structure of plot, genre, and character, diverting from their original formula to explore other forms makes them vulnerable to losing favor.

The Lasting Legacy of BookTok


What began as a video sharing top picks for book recommendations has snowballed into a major movement that has caused a shake up of the publishing industry. BookTok has provided a space in which avid readers may belong and thrive, encouraging others to join, while also actively redefining what it means to be a reader. This community has integrated the powerful tools of social media with the emotional, universal, and at times humorous experience of reading a book that changes your life. In doing so they have paved a new path for literary marketing which publishers are now beginning to follow. The readers, and writers, are now in the power seat, fostering a person to person connection that gets to the heart of what it is to become absorbed in storytelling. In turn, the publishing industry has followed the numbers and recognized that this form of social media clout has empowered independent self-publishing and reader-led marketing. Acting on this social capital has switched the power dynamic, making the reader the defining critic.

It is in this revolution that the literary experience has shifted. Now when we browse the independent and big box bookstores we see the influence of TikTok on our reading habits. Perhaps the wave is here to stay, or maybe it’s a bubble waiting to burst, but either way, it introduced billions to works that changed their lives, or simply made them happy. All in all, the BookTok Community have proven that they are a force to be reckoned with.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Probably everyone promoting some book on tiktok or youtube is doing it for money. Either they’ve been paid to promote it or they’re riding the wave of popularity to get more clicks. And for those who’ve built an audience, they have to appease that audience or their cash source dries up.

    • Unfounded accusations.

    • I kind of agree with this. A lot of influencers just promote books for no reason other than promoting them and it’s frustrating because those “popular” books are usually not as good as they make them out to be. It kind of takes away from the whole experience of finding a good book and enjoying it.

  2. Booktok got me to start reading again for my own personal enjoyment, which I haven’t done in years. I’ve read 8 books in 2 months, and couldn’t be happier. I’ve recommended booktok to others as well, in the hopes it’ll get others interested in reading for personal gain and enjoyment.

  3. I think Booktok is very toxic in general.

    Read this, don’t read this.

    If you like this, it’s a fetish.

    Don’t read anyone remotely problematic, including when you don’t understand that characters are not authors.

    You must make sure your bookshelf is equally diverse.

    Diverse only means LGBTQ+ and Black, we don’t really mean minorities from the rest of the world.

    Fantasy YA are the only books in existence.

    If you don’t read 5000e0303030939039393 books per day, what are you doing?

    It’s an exhausting place.

    • Stephanie M.

      And that’s an extremely good point, or several. Thank you especially for pointing out the fallacy that “diversity only means LGBT and Black.” When you’re neither, but have other minority identities (characteristics? Demographics? How would you say that)? it can feel like no one sees you. I particularly struggle with the still-ingrained idea that, “Diversity means everything except disability–unless you’re sweet and smart enough to be inspirational. In that case, we do have a few books so you can get your pat on the head. Go on now.” UGH.

    • I agree with a lot of your critiques of popular opinion, but I’m not sure they fully apply to all of Booktok. I think that’s just something that all of popular culture does these days. Especially the shocking definition of what diversity means. “Look at this diverse bookshelf of middle-class Americans”

    • This is the online book community in general tbh, spread out over these social media platforms. There’s something new every week, and it’s hard not to buy into the cynicism of it all, especially since it’s become more about being “seen” reading certain books rather than just for the joy of reading.

  4. If it gets people back into reading then I don’t give a damn the vehicle used to talk about books you like.

  5. My 13 year was so happy to discover Booktok. “I found my people!”

    • Stephanie M.

      I can imagine…I wish books had such a platform and presence when I was that age.

    • I definitely see what your 13-year-old was saying, and I wish Booktok was around while I was in highschool. Having “my people” online instead of only being the “weird fangirl” in the school realm would have been amazing.

  6. Booktok turned my 18 year old daughter back onto books. She loved them as a kid, grew out of it for her teens and is now going to a book store weekly. I love it.

  7. Our Barnes and noble now has a tiktok book section. Some pretty good titles on it.

    • Dang, that’s pretty smart, good on them.

    • Same with mine. I’m not a huge Tik Tok person but I can’t hate it for getting people to read.

    • Ours also has a tiktok section, and we post stuff as our location. As someone who has still never actually been on tik tok it makes me feel old but whatever gets people reading.

      Though the other day I saw Osamu Dazai’s No Longer Human on the tik tok table. That threw me off.

  8. Superman

    I tried tiktok for a couple months and hoped to find some good recs. I didn’t get very far into it admittedly, but the whole scene seemed to be YA and fantasy. Nothing wrong with that. It’s great that they’re finding a reading community. For me it didn’t work out

    • Sounds like my experience with “booktubers” on YT. Possibly there is more diversity now, but I remember trying to find some interesting reviews or analysis and mostly just seeing YA and genre stuff.

      I guess I’m old-fashioned but I haven’t found anything on social media that can replace good critical review sources like Booklist or NYRB.

      • there’s plenty of booktubers that don’t read YA. they are a smaller niche within the community though and they are harder to find.

      • Well the main audience and producers of TickTock is young adults and teens so you’re going to get the stuff they like.

      • That’s the reason I stopped doing booktube stuff, I was more general fic and thrillers and there didn’t seem to be an audience for it.

  9. Stephanie M.

    So many good points, I hardly know where to begin. I think though, as an author myself, that section gave me the most to think about.

  10. BookTok got my wife reading again.

  11. I just got back into reading after a several years hiatus due to tiktok suggestions. Not from teens, but people in their 20s/30s. Some people do really fun “story time” videos where at the end they’re like “to find out what happens next, read [title]!” I’m making them sound annoying but they’re not lol It encouraged me to get back into reading… because I really wanted to know how the story ended.

    • Jocelyn

      Do you have any users you’d recommend? i am intrigued!!!

      • Aaliyah

        Search tiktok tags like #bookrecs and the genre you’re looking for to get results more tailored to what suits you!

  12. It was interesting reading this article. I tend to be skeptical of authors becoming social media influencers, and this new way of marketing books, because not every author is able to be a charismatic social media force. I also know that many social media personalities are rather inauthentic, so when I see a booktokker talking about their favorite books it’s hard for me not to wonder…is that really their favorite book? Or what’s trendy currently? Have they been sponsored by a publisher to shower this book with praises?

    Perhaps I’m just cynical. There are definitely loads of people who have had great positive experiences with social media, and plenty of great books that owe their (well-deserved) success to TikTok and other social media platforms.. It was nice to hear about the good side of Booktok.

  13. I just discovered a few people on youtube that recommend books and it has really opened up my reading list to so many books that I could not have even dreamed of. I like Jack Edwards he did reviews on Asian writers, writers from the middle east he covers famous people’s reading lists also. Thanks to him I have bought (but not read yet) books on post war Germany and Apartheid. It helps he has an english degree but just the same he has great recommendations.

  14. Sometimes i fantasize about becoming a bookstagram or booktok person.

    • I got kind of into bookstagram a few years ago and ended up with a few thousand followers (it’s really not that hard to get that many). I quit after about 6 months because it was taking so much time. You have to post a few times a week and then “network.” Coming up with ideas, taking pictures, and editing them took forever. It was fun, though.

  15. I love Booktube but just can’t get into Booktok. I think it’s because I like the long videos where I get to know personalities versus a 7 second clip.

  16. I love booktok. They don’t always recommend the best books quality-wise but their tiktoks are entertaining and I’m always a sucker for enemies to lovers romance. I think it’s good how some younger or indie authors are able to get a name thanks to tiktok.

    • Santino

      May I recommend the Polaris Rising Series? Scifi-space opera at its best. And excellent enemies to lovers romance.

  17. Sherlyn

    I am not a fan of “influencers”.

    But I support this.

  18. Booktok really helped me get back into reading. I usually don’t use TikTok but I really enjoy booktok. It’s great seeing other people who are as passionate about reading as I was before.

    • BookTok is deffo what got me back into reading!!! I’ve probably spent like £200 on books in the last 2 months it’s a bit ridiculous.

  19. After having my first baby, I couldn’t concentrate or remember details as well while reading due to being a tired new parent and splitting my focus. (Prior, someone could say my name from a couple feet away and I would be oblivious due to being engrossed in my book.) My reading speed slowed drastically and I got frustrated at having to pause to remember details or flip to a previous chapter to remind myself what was going on. I’m sure hitting 30 and having a 2nd kiddo didn’t help, lol, but I pretty much stopped reading and found hobbies that didn’t use as much of my focus.

    A coworker ended up letting me borrow a book that she recommended that happened to be YA. I would have typically passed on a YA novel, but we had similar tastes, so I gave it a shot and I’ve never regretted it. Despite snarky comments/odd looks from other adults, I started browsing the YA shelves at my local library, found an encouraging librarian that gave good suggestions, and regained my love of reading.

    I’ve learned that YA novels have come a long way since I was a teen and some of my favorite authors have entire series that I would never have read previously due to a two letter acronym.

  20. Alexander

    Why are they all female? Do males read less, in general? (Or is it that the viewership is male?)


      The viewership is mostly girls/women as well as far as I can tell. The recommendations and themes seem to resonate with a female audience, that happens.

    • As a black dude that used to be on booktok it’s kind of a weird thing to explain

      Most of the big accounts are girls and tbh the only big dude accounts are white dudes. And a lot of YA uses tropes that girls like more. Things like enemies to lovers and stuff like that. It was weird when I first got on there and realized I was like 1 of like 25 dudes let alone 1 of 5 black ones.

  21. I wouldn’t trust tiktok to tell me how to tie my shoes never mind recommend my reading material.

    • So I usually don’t like booktokers and their recommendation lists but I live for when a person whose profile is centered around one specific thing they are passionate about(urban planning, mythology, microbiology whatever) and they share books that first got them really interested in the matter. I guess it only works for non-fiction but really like those

  22. I read zodiac academy on tiktok recommendation because I saw it recommended literally every other video and thought “this many people can’t be wrong”! Turns out they most definitely can. I didn’t finish it, it was terrible.

  23. I’ve noticed tiktok and Pinterest have the worst taste in book recommendations. It’s all smut, or awful murder mysteries.

    • I feel like Goodreads is good for, not telling if a book is good necessarily, but avoiding the really bad stuff. Like if a romance book is misogynistic there will usually be reviewers saying things like “I wanted to like this book, I usually like bad boy stuff, but there was just so much double standard…” You can ignore the reviewers who are just there to sneer/act morally shocked. From what I understand, booktok is more recommendations, rather than reviews? I feel like the 1 minute format is not going to lend itself to a measured criticism.

  24. JDWatts

    I am a fan of booktok’s spinoff bookstagram, I have read a lot recently based on their recommendations.
    Some good, some bad but it did get me reading again.
    I also love being discussing the minutiae of Harry Potter with other people in their 30s who are still obsessed.
    I only joined Twitter and Tiktok to try and promote my book, and as scary as these platforms can be for a not-teen I have found the #writersoftwitter and reading and writing communities on all the platforms to be positive, joyful, and supportive places (a rarity on SM).

  25. I feel like I’m too old for booktok, booktubers are much more up my alley. Booktubers reviewing booktok recs are interesting to watch too.

    • I have not gotten into booktube despite very much enjoying book review podcasts. What ones would you recommend that go in depth and keep the banter to a minimum?

  26. Maci Curtis

    In a bookshop yesterday and saw a cover with a sticker saying “as seen on tiktok” or similar. I’ve decided to take it as a sign of the end of days.

  27. sierragames

    Booktok has definitely not lived up to my expectations. It’s why I joined TikTok and I’m so far not super impressed.

  28. Richard

    I’m not a fan of Booktok, but I love reading books anyways. The fact that Booktok sold 825 million books in 2021 makes it one of the most successful online platforms. Making books accessible to everybody through social media is a new and exciting way of encouraging people to read.

  29. Very interesting and informative! I’ve never been on TikTok so was unaware that BookTok existed. I can imagine that it would have provided great comfort to a tween me and must do so for young people growing up in a world where platforms like this are just a part of everyday life/social interactions.
    That said, I strongly dislike the short and snappy, just keep scrolling format of TikTok and feel that it has the potential to really damage young minds (instant gratification, short attention spans, dot points rather than in-depth knowledge, etc.) I wish blogs would become trendy again. They allowed for the same sharing of ideas and building of community without the brain rot.

  30. I think I would have absolutely loved BookTok when I was younger. I don’t get to read as much as I did as a kid, but a place to get recommendations and share ideas about books at my fingertips sounds great.

  31. I agree with many things brought up here, however, as a former assistant in a bookstore it can be sad to see people come in and bee-line for the one book rather than experience of spending a few hours browsing the aisles. It’s great that BookToks bring people together in a little community, but can take focus off other incredible books at the same time. Advertising has always done this, but the affect of social media heightens that astronomically.

  32. Booktop is such a cool way to find recommendations for books, i know when i want to read it takes me ages to decide if i should a book because i had no one’s judgement on it but know i just hop on tictok search the book title and find tons of videos of people commenting on it, its awesome

  33. Montayj79

    As long as it doesn’t disintegrate to nakedness like most of TikTok, I’m for it.

  34. BookTok has its pros and cons for me. On a personal level, I’ve definitely saved a bunch of videos that recommend this and that book because it’s surrealist, feminist, diverse, whatever and now that I’ve got time to read again (’22 college grad anyone?), I’ve definitely delved through the saved tab when I hit up my local library. So, I think it works super well to disseminate “good” books in niche/less traditionally marketed topics to a wider audience. Like the music industry, TikTok has brought a new way to play the market – for better or for worse. My biggest con with BookTok is the fact that it’s this predominantly white, millennial woman space and your BookTok influencers are all pretty much that, and it’s hard to trust their opinion on diverse books. I think half the books I’ve read because of BookTok ended up unfinished or I resented finishing it at all. Everyone’s just kinda really horny on main over there? Then good writing falls to the wayside for a place that prides itself on curating new, cool books. Interested to see it evolve, though, especially since making videos to advertise books doesn’t translate too well, but who knows!

  35. Thanks to BookTok I have gone from reading 1 book a year to 6 books in half a year. While I do wish that the books constantly recommended on BookTok had more diversity, I understand why some of these books keep being recommended to viewers despite most people already knowing about them. Many of these books are extremely well written and have absolutely helped me come out of an extremely long reading slump

  36. Anna Samson

    Absolutely wonderful analysis! Loved reading this.

  37. I remember seeing a booktok mark on a stack of books in a bookstore and I was shocked on how much the recommendation system has changed. I do wonder how much of the “recommendations” on booktok are paid.

  38. BookTok has done so much for self-published authors as well.

  39. Whilst I’m glad BookTok is giving rise to new readers, I must say i’ve got no intention of ever checking it out. But it is nice to know what i’m missing, so thank you for that.

  40. This is a very interesting article! I wonder how this will pan out with Booktok? I don’t think it’s where I would go for book recommendations, mainly cos I’m not terribly big on social media, and have pretty specific interests. I’m glad it’s got people into reading, but I hope that we still retain spaces where works are critically reviewed in long form.

  41. I agree that Booktok is certainly a powerful phenomenon, but it seems to be contributing increasingly to this idea that we can define ourselves/our identities by the content we consume. It perpetuates the cycle of the algorithms, which separates us from people with different viewpoints and only further entrenches us into our own ways of thinking. While it’s good that we are becoming more educated and hopefully more able to articulate our points by reading more and learning more deeply, I wonder if it’s for the best that we base our readings on recommendations from a platform designed to make money off of our addiction to content and the spread of mis/disinformation, and dividing us as people.

  42. Interstellarflare

    Booktok is definitely a major trend, and is still going strong. I don’t think it’s a matter of the trend being toxic with people saying ‘don’t read this’ or ‘don’t read that’, its more about what appeals to a reader’s personal tastes. There may be some so called ‘toxic’ accounts somewhere, but I haven’t come across one yet, and I appreciate all the book suggestions that these booktockers give!

  43. Caylee

    I really enjoyed this – it’s fascinating to think about the evolving roles of readers and authors, and the factors that influence these!

  44. When will it end? Often, authors have a tough enough time trying to keep up with the books they are reading, rather than having to promote through live accounts on platforms such as Insta and TikTok.

  45. I don’t use TikTok, but I do see Booktok videos recycled on my Instagram explore page constantly. As a reader, I love seeing books being recommended to others (especially when my favourites are included), but I’ve never been convinced to read a book from a ten-second video. I personally prefer BookTube since those content creators tend to spend more time talking about a book and convincing you to read it or even skip it.

  46. I had fun reading this! I hope you write more about how it affects the publishing industry! How does it help indie publishers? Do you think publishers have to follow the trends of consumers instead of consumers having to follow the publisher’s trends? Will booktok influence what books publishing companies choose to publish? How will that affect writers?? That’s awesome that old victorian books are getting more spotlight!

  47. It is refreshing to see that the influences of TikTok (BookTok) have changed the way bookstores set up their stores, and publishers redefine what is a good book or not. It’s not based on other authors’ reviews or top companies but on the actual readers. This concept is in real-time but can be fatal if not regulated correctly.

  48. I think TikTok can be viewed as another tool for users to find and locate similar ideas, views, and in this case, books that they enjoy. However, I think that they can also be pigeonholed into only showcasing authors that are already popular or more privileged, excluding marginalized authors and books with heavier subjects but are just as meaningful.

  49. I personally think BookTok, and such social media platforms, are a positive thing. Reading isn’t something that should be gate kept, so the wider the audience, the more it benefits all readers!

  50. Love the idea of BookTok, but I hate all their recommendations…

  51. I personally feel like TikTok is a bit late on books. I feel like it recommends books I’ve seen recommended months previously on IG or YouTube. It’s mostly SJM and Colleen Hoover and other books I’ve already known all about for years. I do think it’s helped me though understand that I no longer want book recommendations, and that I’d rather venture out and discover new books on my own, however obscure, especially when such a popular platform really just means recommending already popular books.

  52. Fardowsa

    I think it’s interesting to observe the booktok community grow as more people discover or rediscover their love of reading. It’s fascinating to see how much the platform influences best-selling books. Before I had tiktok, I used to get my recommendations from Booktube, and a lot of things were the same, like the new trendy book that every youtuber would recommend.

    The difference is that Booktube’s influence wasn’t as substantial as Booktok’s, possibly because Booktube had a smaller community. Booktube was also overflowing with similar YouTube creators, many of whom were white, so getting a recommendation from one channel was essentially getting a recommendation from all. Usually, small channels that are less well-known and have fewer subscribers will give you a more authentic point of view on their recommendations, but it was difficult because you’d have to go great lengths to find one, whereas in Tiktok, you can simply search a hashtag and a variety of videos will appear under it.

    There is still a lack of diversity in Tiktok, given that all most of the videos in the popular section are white authors, but I will find videos on my for you page that are similar to my liking or have more relatable plotlines, even if the video doesn’t have many likes. I discovered that Youtube’s algorithm will recommend booktubers with a large viewing audience, whereas Tiktok’s algorithm is more tailored to you. It’s a little concerning with Tiktok’s algorithms because I know it’s using my data to create more personalised videos, but if I can find genuine good recommendations that are enjoyable, I might choose to ignore that.

  53. Isn’t a little problematic that all of this is becoming centralized on TikTok? Meaning, the process of creating, reading, reviewing and selling is all mixed together and the lines between each process becomes blurred. I think that is in issue of “Booktok,” and Tiktok in general- it solidifies a type of “groupthink” and denies the more complex, individual voices in favor of an general consensus that continues to polarize itself.

  54. hannahedgeman

    This article hits most of the main aspects involved in BookTok. I am writing this comment months after the publication of the original article, and one of the author’s statements remains to be true: the popularity of BookTok is still growing quickly. Now, previously less popular authors are breaking records, thanks to BookTok attention. One of these authors is Colleen Hoover.

  55. I think tiktok has proved to be a platform not only for readers but also for authors and publishing companies and literary agents to grow their community. It used to take months to get a book published traditionally but as booktok rose and people started relying on self marketing, authors have started being more confident in their writings and choosing the self publishing path.

  56. Kaya

    As someone who doesn’t use TikTok, and is not even tempted, it’s intereseting to learn that there is actually some significant work being done on the platform. I wonder why has this trend stayed only on TikTok, can a similar phenomenon somehow appear on Instagram too for example?

  57. I’ve been an avid reader for a long time and, growing up, people would often wonder about my fascination with books. Many were too taken by technology and social media to pay any attention to the written word. Why go through the trouble of deciphering language when you can just watch it in a more digestible form? Now I’m in my twenties and watching what I was often questioned and teased about resurface as a trend among younger people is encouraging. If everyone is going to use social media anyway, why not use it to make something as beneficial as reading cool again?

  58. Who would’ve thought that a social media platform would rekindle a fire that was being extinguished, ironically, because of social media’s influence on our perception of ‘good’ entertainment?

    I mean that social media — and especially Tiktok — has influenced our brains into seeking instant gratification. Reading a book is perhaps the exact opposite of instant gratification. It requires patience and a calm environment. Yet, as mentoned in the article, Tiktok actually brought reading back into the mainstream.

    I find it fascinating how we’re continually influenced by the internet. A lot of people – especially Millenials – were kind of skeptical about Tiktok at first. It’s a kid’s app, it’s stupid, I’ll never download it… but once things like Booktop started popping up, it became all the more apparent that it was not merely a kid’s app. It was a chance to build community.

  59. I started heavily reading right before booktok became big, so I was easily a big part of it when it was first starting out. I think having this platform and influence for books is great, especially because it got a lot more people to begin reading again! But a problem with this is that because it’s a platform on social media, a lot of younger kids have access to it, and a lot of the books that are recommended at not appropriate and labeled as “spicy.” Now, I see a lot of booktokers and bookstores having a bit more knowledge on this and labeling books a bit more to keep young kids from buying and reading books with sexual and explicit content. Theres only so much that could be done, but I guess another problem with that would be if someone wants to read something, how do we determine if they’re mature enough to?

  60. Ethan Lau

    Great article! I do think that BookTok and the usage of social media to spark more people into reading is a great idea. However, as others have mentioned, I have also noticed that many of the videos on BookTok seem to recommend the same few books that are already popular. There is a part of me that worries once the novelty of these books wear off, BookTok will die off.

  61. Great job on this article! I have to thank BookTok for getting me back into reading again, even if I didn’t like a lot of the recommendations that I read. It’s interesting seeing how different social media platforms continue changing the lit and poetry landscape – Facebook author fan clubs, BookTube, Insta poets, and now BookTok. Who knows what the next iteration will be?

  62. Veara

    Booktok has made reading an aesthetic activity, it aligns with the fast consumption of literature. the fast-paced environment of such social media has made it much too easy to promote a book and have it be popular just based on its cover or an additional plot line and that is it, it’s out to be purchased by everyone. The thing is that just like audio that goes popular and people then use it over and over for engagement, the same thing is happening with books, if a book is popular, people will buy it just to show it to increase engagement on their account.

  63. EllenPastorino

    At least encourage people to read.

  64. I love your point about BookTok demystifying reading as solely an ‘intellectual’ activity. As an English major pre-BookTok, I got stuck in a rut where I thought that worthwhile reading could only consist of 400-page classics and endless contemplation. Eventually, this narrow definition of reading got me to a point where the LAST thing I wanted to do in my personal time was open a book – books were strictly confined to the classroom.

    BookTok videos were what finally shifted my perspective on what reading is, and it took the pressure off of the activity. Seeing this community of people my age openly promoting and discussing ‘fluff’ reads gave me permission to begin doing the same. After a few quick-read romance books that BookTok recommended me (@ Colleen Hoover!), I finally began loving reading again like I did when I was younger.

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