Covid has seen the emergence of multiple unforeseen trends that have taken the internet by storm – and now you can add BookTok to the list.
As the world’s leading video platform – TikTok is responsible for reigniting a global passion for reading, by facilitating an online viral community of booklovers.
With the growing community of social networking bookworms infiltrating the social media platform algorithms, searching “BookTok” in the TikTok app can summon over 14 million instant results.
Dedicated to booklovers, BookTok is a stream of the TikTok algorithm ‘For You Page’ on which literary lovers post their reading recommendations, inspired artworks, reactions to favourite book tropes and characters (most commonly fictional men), and dramatic musical remixes accompanied by aesthetic videos. Creators convey their opinions in a punchy minute or less.
No monetary or sponsorship incentives are involved — it’s just passionate book fans gushing over their favourite tomes. And it’s not uncommon to see BookTok creators shedding tears, the ugly type, over their recommendations.
I love that you can become close friends with someone because you started fighting over a fictional guy in the comments.
Take popular BookToker, Libby Ann, who has already accrued 96,000 followers and 4.1 million likes on her TikTok account, dedicated to her love of books
Recognisable for the teddy bear beanie that adorns her head and her reading nook, drool-worthy for any book lover, Libby tells Central News: “BookTok has become so popular because people in the community always feel like a friend you have known forever. The small community I have has become like a second family to me!
“I love being a part of all the discussions about the issues brought up in books as well as hearing everyone’s opinion.
“And most importantly – I love that you can become close friends with someone because you started fighting over a fictional guy in the comments.”
Simon and Schuster, an American publishing company, has released statistics demonstrating the power BookTok has had in influencing the community to buy books. The company says the US Young Adult book market is “up almost 50 per cent in the first half of 2021 thanks to #BookTok” with bestsellers such as They Both Die in the End by Adam Silvera selling over 300,000 copies.
In the Australian market “more than 25,000 copies have been sold since #BookTok discovered the title”, and the novel has held first place on the Young Adult charts six times, maintaining its position in the Top 5 in the Young Adult charts since March.
The global pandemic has played a significant role as a catalyst for the online community and giving people time to reignite their passion for reading. Up-and-coming BookTok creators Marissa Davis and Isabella Rodriguez concur. Both appreciate the unity the platform provides amid the pandemic, to what is otherwise an individual hobby.
Davis says: “Reading is typically a lonely hobby and having people to share your thoughts with you on books is so fun and makes you feel like you have a sense of community around you.
“I got involved during a lockdown in COVID. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I saw a video come across my For You Page with book recommendations. I thought, ‘TikTok has a whole section of people who are just as obsessed with books as me?'”
Rodriguez says BookTok re-sparked her love for literature. For the first time in a long time, she “picked up a book… [and] read it in two days”.
Rodriguez created her account in January, loving how the platform allows followers to “interact with people from all around the world… [and] interact with your favourite authors”.
She says: “It feels like the best experience ever.”
In 2019, Macquarie University Economics Research released a survey that summarised reading habits in Australia. The research concluded that 51 per cent of Australians were occasional readers and had read “between one and 10 books in the last 12 months,” 41 per cent were frequent readers and had read “more than 10 books” in the same period.
Just a year later, in 2020, the Australian Government’s Australian Council for the Arts released a report, which said, “since the lockdown began, more than a third of Australians have been reading more (36 per cent)” due to having more time for leisure activities.
While BookTok has taken advantage of the numerous pandemic lockdowns internationally, primarily promoting Young Adult and Fantasy novels, global retailers such as Barnes and Nobles, Booktopia and Dymocks have been quick to capitalise on the trend, establishing web pages dedicated to the BookToker’s top picks.
Books from every genre are racing off the shelves and book-nerds are thriving with TBR (to be read) lists that never seem to end. The global community continues to grow as people are embracing this rising passion for reading, thanks to BookTok.
Main image source: Lily Welsh