TikTok is largely known as the Gen Z social media app that features short videos on viral dances, cooking tutorials and skits. A new user might be surprised to learn that not only do TikTok users span all ages, genders and nationalities, but that there are also subsets of different fandoms. After the algorithm learns a user’s interests, they will find their feed curated to videos that cater to their tastes. These spaces can even take on informal names of their own, like FoodTok, or videos revolving around food. For book lovers, they may find themselves in the world of BookTok.
At first glance, TikTok does not appear to be a thriving home base for reading and book recommendations. However, a growing audience of users, particularly women in their teens and twenties, has utilized the app to share books they are reading and loved (or cried over). Using the #BookTok hashtag, these content creators share videos that may include time lapses of them reading a book, automated voiceovers describing the plot and even acting out select scenes. Scrolling through the hashtag, you may see a video featuring “Books That Made Me Sob in My Room at 3 AM,” or genre-specific recommendations, such as romantic comedies, LGBTQ fiction, or fantasy.
The impact of BookTok has created a shift in book consumption and publication that writers and publishers are only just beginning to grasp. Many popular BookTok books are titles that previously sold well and are now seeing a huge increase in sales after being featured in videos. For example, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller won the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction in 2012. It retells the Greek myth of Achilles as a romance between him and his companion Patroclus. The book is often shared in recommendations of “books that made me cry” and is selling about nine times as many copies now as when it won the Orange Prize.
Libraries and bookstores are also taking notice, creating displays and recommendation lists of books seen on TikTok to meet the demand and interest of voracious readers. Check out these popular BookTok titles available from your library!