BookTok phenomenon is pushing younger generation to embrace books


The power of BookTok when it comes to recommendations is also a big hit with publishers and book professionals. Photo: AFP

Young generations are reading books, but their approach to books isn't the same as that of older generations.

For proof, one need look no further than BookTok, the huge book club that has sprung up on the social network TikTok.

Many 16-25 year olds take part in it to discover new titles to read, according to a recent survey by the Publishers Association.

The British trade organisation examined this phenomenon by surveying more than 2,000 respondents aged 16 to 25, through the agency Savanta.

It found that BookTok has had an impact on young people's cultural consumption habits: 59% of them said that TikTok's literary network has helped them "discover a passion for reading."

It's been two years now since the platform for creating and sharing short videos has seen an increase in book recommendations and reviews. And it's far from being an isolated phenomenon: the hashtag #booktok has over 91 billion views. This new kind of literary content has even boosted the sales figures of some books, including The Song Of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Heartstopper by Alice Oseman and the Grishaverse novels by Leigh Bardugo.

These successes in book sales can be explained by the role BookTok plays as a recommendation tool for millennials and younger generations. Many of them watch videos of literary influencers who introduce them to classics as well as the latest book releases. Their opinion sometimes counts more than that of their loved ones: 38% of 16-25 year olds say they prefer to turn to BookTok community members for literary recommendations than to their family and friends.

Making reading cool again

Dan Conway, chief executive of the Publishers Association, is pleased that the BookTok phenomenon is pushing younger generations to embrace books.

"It's great to see that (it) is igniting a love of reading for young people. Reading can be so beneficial to health and happiness, and is a way for all ages to connect over common interests," he said in a statement.

The power of BookTok when it comes to recommendations is also a big hit with publishers and book professionals. And for good reason, nearly half of 16-25 year olds say they have recently gone to a bookstore to buy a book they heard about on TikTok.

It's proving to be a great way to boost the entire sector.

After working in publishing for six years, Chrissy Ryan decided to open her own bookshop, Book Bar, in the heart of London to ride the BookTok wave. A friendly space where bibliophiles can enjoy a glass of wine while flipping through paper versions of books they've discovered on their phones.

"More and more we are seeing young people come to the shop asking for books they discovered on TikTok," she explained in the Publishers Association report.

"We are increasingly looking to BookTok to help determine our stock and predict demand. It’s exciting to see that BookTok has helped made reading cool again."

Cool and sociable. Far from being just a trendy hashtag, BookTok allows young people to connect with like-minded readers. For example, 19% of those surveyed said that this giant book club made them feel like they belonged to a community, while 16% said that it had led to new friendships. - AFP

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