There’s a new community on TikTok, and it’s growing faster than you might think.
BookTok is the term used to describe the bookish community on TikTok, where people post videos recommending books, making jokes about reading, and sharing their love of literature.
These short videos have the potential to have a huge impact on the publishing industry. Selene from @moongirlreads_ caused a significant spike in sales of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, all from her video recommending books that will make you cry. Ayman, from @aymansbooks, made it nearly impossible for readers to get their hands on The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab because her viral video recommending it caused it to sell out in countless stores.
Publishers are starting to realize the impact BookTok can have. Not only are many of them on the platform themselves, but they’ll send BookTokers early copies of books so they can discuss them on their page, as well as pay BookTokers to make videos about books they’re looking to promote.
How do I know all of this? I’m a BookToker.
Today, I want to dive into BookTok.
This isn’t my first time discussing BookTok here. And it won’t be my last. I already have a post up from October where I give advice for anyone looking to join the platform, and my next post in this series will discuss common misconceptions about BookTok, as well as answer some questions I’ve seen asked a lot.
However, let’s focus on a different topic for today: the history of BookTok and it’s future.
The History of BookTok
Admittedly, it’s hard for me to discuss the history of BookTok without discussing my personal experience with it.
The first time I saw the term “BookTok” used was by @kathyellendavis in 2019, who was making a series of TikTok videos where she would recommend books for people to read.
At that time, there weren’t many bookish creators. Other than her, there were a few publishing companies on the platform, some authors, and a few other readers. BookTok as a community didn’t begin to grow until early April 2020.
I had been a fan bookish creators on TikTok in 2019, and created my first “BookTok” videos in December of that year, on my account @caitsbooks. However, it wasn’t until March 13th, 2020, that one of them blew up. As this video started gaining hundreds of thousands of views, more people were inspired to share their love of books on the app.
At this point, BookTok was a relatively small community. I knew almost every single creator personally. However, in the past year, it’s grown beyond what anyone could have imagined.
It would be impossible to list every creator who has helped shape this platform, because there are simply too many. However, at the end of this article I’ve included a list of creators I personally love and would recommend people check out.
The Future of BookTok
With BookTok continuing to grow, there is no way to predict what may come from it. However, I think it’s important to recognize its potential for the industry.
In the past couple of months, I have noticed more authors and publishers joining the platform and recognizing it as a serious marketing tool. I imagine this will only continue.
I don’t expect BookTok to continue to grow steadily without hitting any bumps in the road. With large influxes of new creators, authors, and publishers, I imagine oversaturation of creators might become an issue. And now that the marketing successes of BookTok has gained attention, I can also see more promotional content being made, which might cause those who joined for authenticity to lose interest. However, I don’t think these issues will permanently effect BookTok. I feel these are problems that the book communities on other platforms, especially Instagram and Youtube, have experienced and survived. BookTok will as well.
BookTok has changed a lot over the past year. I could never have imagined what it is now when I first picked up my phone to record a video last March. All I know is, I am so excited to see what happens next in this community.
As promised, here is a list of BookTok creators I adore. Many of these creators have helped shape this platform, and many will continue to influence it as it grows and changes.
Note: This list is not all BookTok creators. It’s not even all of my favorite BookTok creators. It’s just a few that I recommend you check out!