Social media app TikTok is making increased efforts to harness the power of its book content with new retailer partnerships, live events and clubs.
“BookTok,” as users have dubbed TikTok content about books, consists of everything from videos of creators’ to-read stacks to livestreamed crying at emotional novels. BookTok has been credited with a string of hits, sometimes reviving interest in older titles like Colleen Hoover’s 2016 novel It Ends With Us (dubbed “CoHo” by TikTokers), which re-entered the best-selling charts , after BookToker Aliisha Keens posted about it in March. Other books that have proved popular include Casey McQuiston’s Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Red, White & Royal Blue and Emily Henry’s Beach Read.
TikTok estimates that the BookTok hashtag has had nearly 65 billion views to date and described it as “one of our most active communities.”
The platform has now launched a book club in the UK, which is described as a new way for the app’s “vibrant community” of book fans to “share their love of reading”. It is the social media platform’s first attempt to officially take a stake in BookTok.
Meanwhile, Waterstones’ flagship shop in Piccadilly held a BookTok festival earlier this month, and in the US, retailer Barnes & Noble has partnered with TikTok to launch the #BookTokChallenge.
Waterstones’ Piccadilly’s BookTok Festival was an opportunity for developers to meet in person, said Will Rycroft, Waterstones Audience Development Manager. “We also wanted to give them what they want, so we asked them,” Rycroft said. “They wanted to meet with publishers to celebrate the books they already love; Get proof of upcoming releases and merchandise; enjoy literal entertainment plus three panel events for BookTok favorites, including a live stream from Taylor Jenkins Reid – all of which sold out incredibly quickly.”
Waterstones has a central TikTok account with 84,000 followers, and some of its individual shops have created accounts, as have many publishers.
Barnes & Noble’s partnership with TikTok, which ends August 31, encourages people to discover and read new books and authors, and then share their reactions with #BookTokChallenge. The challenge has partnered with a number of BookTok accounts and works similarly to the TikTok Book Club.
The TikTok Book Club will be discussing a new book each month throughout the summer and beyond, with discussions led by five “BookTok Award Winners”. Together, the five TikTokers – @Bmercer, @li.reading, @edenreidreads, @cocosarel and @jackbenedwards – have more than 1 million followers.
James Stafford, Head of Partnerships and Community at TikTok, said: “It has been amazing to see #BookTok evolving into a truly global phenomenon that is having a profound impact on the literary world.
“From highlighting little-known authors and genres to introducing the classics to a new generation, #BookTok has helped reignite the passion for literature, and we’re creating a new take on the popular #BookClub format so our community can can continue to connect, spark conversations and share the books they love most.”
Jane Austen’s Persuasion was the first book to be discussed by the book club, and TikTok has created a hub in the book club app where “users can easily learn about the title of the month and start creating their own reviews and book aesthetics.” and to share or newest literary crush”.
BookToker Lauren Goldgrub, who publishes videos as Lauren’s Little Library, said TikTok “started on neutral, safe ground” by choosing Persuasion.
The book club was a good idea because it showed that TikTok is “putting time and energy into the community, which in turn validates the significant influence of BookTok creators and hopefully draws more non-readers or previous readers back down the fold,” she added.
TikTok user Libby, who posts under TheLibbyRuth account, said she hopes the book club would “sponsor more books by marginalized authors” and “shine the spotlight on more books that aren’t as talked about outside of the mainstream and popular reading.” becomes”. .
Authenticity has been key to BookTok’s success, with early hits coming organically and with little involvement from retailers or publishers. Goldgrub has warned that amid publishing partnerships for the book club, creators must be careful to remain authentic, while Rycroft said it’s crucial that Waterstones “get the tone right”.
“The joy of TikTok is how democratic it is,” Rycroft said. “The #Booktok community knows what they like (and don’t like) and authenticity is everything.”
TheLibbyRuth said that “TikTok is for consumers.” They added, “While I enjoy company-produced content, I think the best thing about TikTok is its authentic and unpolished aspect, and I would hate to see it overly commercialized, especially given the lack of diversity in publishing.”
Goldgrub said she would only feature titles from a potential partnership between TikTok and a publisher if “I was able to read the novel in advance to make sure it wasn’t problematic and that I would recommend it.” , even if I wasn’t part of the official TikTok book club”.
“Trust,” she said, “is the currency of the internet. If I don’t have my integrity, everything falls apart.”