The rise of BookTok on TikTok

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The rise of BookTok on TikTok

While TikTok generally has a large influence over its audience that ranges from teens to young adults, one community is growing into the mainstream of the social media site. BookTok, also under #BookTok, consists of users recommending their favorite books to others. Like an actual book talk, the TikToks usually consist of persuasion that highlights the plot of the book.

One literature trope BookTok loves is enemies to lovers, which is exactly as it sounds. The hashtag #enemiestolovers is currently at 354.9 million views, most of the TikToks being about users’ favorite books that focus on the trope. One member of BookTok tweeted that the reason the trope is so popular is that people are “enticed by the idea of showing someone the worst parts of yourself first and still having them fall in love with you.” 

TikTok user @aaliyahreads dedicated a TikTok to enemies to lovers suggestions for her followers and the BookTok community. Each book was accompanied by its genre and age recommendation. With a total of 387K likes and 3641 comments, other users commented with their own recommendations and opinions on the best options.

Perhaps the most popular book that BookTok recommends is They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera. TikTok user @Ianjerry explained it best in his video by sharing a synopsis of the book through TikTok’s POV format and style. He introduces the characters, Mateo and Rufus, where they’re told that they’re going to die in 24 hours. Both characters are “looking to make a new friend on their End Day” and meet on an app called the Last Friend, meet up and “live a lifetime in a single day,” Jerry states. 

After the popularity of the game Among Us, TikTok user @frostgalaxy created a TikTok recommending books for readers that like the game. One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus is another viral book and was featured in the TikTok, many commenters stating that it’s their favorite book.

Beth Lee’s article explains why the book community on TikTok is most influential in comparison to other social media applications. Lee states that because the app “relies so heavily on the user’s short attention spans, [it provides] such a perfect platform for the high-concentration act of reading.” And because of the pandemic, many users wanted to find some activity to do in their pastime, making BookTok the perfect resource to find books.

Some users who run BookTok accounts have reported that publishers have been sending them free books and paying them for their videos including books that haven’t been released, according to Alexandra Cortez’s article. Marketing products through TikTok isn’t a new concept, but with many publishers jumping on the trend, book communities on different social media platforms aren’t recognized despite being well established. 

Due to BookTok’s popularity, the Barnes & Noble website has a page dedicated to BookTok featuring 58 books in total. The top novel on the BookTok page is Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, which recently became a television series on Netflix. It’s clear that the ability social media has to make anything viral even influences sales for authors and book stores. 

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