BookTok Inspires a New Love of Reading

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Sydney Wolfe

BookTok, a virtual community on TikTok centered around reading and books, has boomed in popularity over the past year. The community’s outreach has made its way out of the online world and into bookstores such as Barnes & Noble.

Sydney Wolfe, Staff Writer

With over 15 million active users each day, TikTok is known to be the home of all viral trends in the social media world, from addictive dances to whipped coffee. One of the latest crazes is BookTok, a popular hashtag that users include in their videos recommending, reviewing, and talking about their favorite books. 

Throughout the past year, BookTok has flourished, reaching over 18 billion views from all of the videos combined underneath the hashtag. Though the term was first loosely coined in late 2019, the community began to grow later in early April of 2020. As Covid-19 began to spread, the inability to have in-person exchanges such as book clubs or festivals, and even just social gatherings, heightened TikTok’s continuously growing popularity.

While most of the content within BookTok is recommendations and reviews, creators also use the specific “aesthetic” or themes of books as video inspiration. Many creators incorporate the moods and settings of a book with imagery, creatively bringing each story to life. Through 30-second videos, viewers are able to dive into the virtual realm of storytelling through teasers and snippets visualizing different books. 

Some videos even propose concepts not based directly on books – “What type of character you would be based on your favorite color,” or “The beginning of your love story based on your zodiac sign” videos are prime examples of this. Whatever the trope may be, these videos are able to visually entice viewers in a quick manner.

Just like the authors who were able to pursue their careers through a virtual community, think about the opportunities that you can find within a single book–the possibilities are endless.”

Through these creative videos, creators are rapidly reviving the value of books, and even just reading in general. While social media is often argued to be toxic or harmful to people, especially teenagers, BookTok’s virtual community reveals a truly wholesome and positive side of the internet.

“Reading may be the only form of entertainment that we have left that comes with no negative repercussions,” says popular influencer Emma Chamberlain in an episode of her podcast Anything Goes which focused on her rekindled appreciation for reading. 

With that being said, BookTok reflects on how a single shared passion or interest allows millions to come together to create a positive and encouraging community. Through this harmonious joining, millions have continued to keep the reading world alive and flourishing while inspiring many along the way to join in.

The visual creativity behind BookTok captivates viewers and motivates them to join in on the “trend” before it’s too late. For example, the popular heart-wrenching novels The Song of Achilles and They Both Die at the End have both gained great attention as creators have stitched together emotional clips of themselves crying during and at the end of the books. Now, both stories are award-winning novels.

Thus, BookTok has had a significant impact on the book industry. Authors utilize the popularity of BookTok as well as TikTok’s platform to promote their works and reach out to a wider audience. Let’s say one single video blows up on BookTok; suddenly, thousands or maybe even millions of people are interested in the work featured in the video. Scenarios like this are what have greatly contributed to thriving literature sales and the popularity of particular authors. 

BookTok recommendations have even made their way out of the virtual world and into bookstores. As many titles become more and more popular through the platform, retailers, most significantly Barnes & Noble, have increasingly marketed these particular books. In most stores, there are designated BookTok shelves or tables laying out all of the viral books of TikTok. There are also often small blurbs giving a brief summary or review underneath a book with the hashtag BookTok.    

A few highly-praised and popular BookTok recommendations, besides They Both Die at the End and The Song of Achilles, include Matt Haig’s The Midnight Library, It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby

While many might associate the idea of reading with school, BookTok has revealed that reading doesn’t have to be as dreadful as some may feel it is. Just like the authors who were able to pursue their careers through a virtual community, think about the opportunities that you can find within a single book. The possibilities are endless.