The rise of Booktok: books are back and making bank.

28.02.22 | By Ellie Laffner | opinion

Publishers, booktokkers and making bank.

Books are back.

Books are back.

Now it’s true; they never left. 

But the digital book community has never been more influential. 

No longer a habit to wind-down, escape or improve thyself, books are back because young people are deeming them finger-lickin’-page-turningly good. But in a world of dwindling attention spans and furious scrolling, how did books, the medium requiring the most patience, perseverance and focus, have such a comeback? 

The answer is surprising; TikTok. 

TikTok is the hub for book hype. It’s now simultaneously a haven for avid and wanna-be readers, and a space for booktokkers (see: book influencers) to share their best recommendations. 

And their content? It's having a real-world, dosh-making impact. 


When in doubt, do it bite-sized.

Content via booktok is short, punchy and oh, so digestible. Rarely a space for deep analysis, booktokkers are shifting the charts by making book recommendations ultra-engaging.

Examples look like this:

  • Books that made me fall back in love with reading.

  • 5 fast-paced books to get you out of a reading slump.

  • My most annotated books

  • Convincing you to read books based on the first line.

See the same book repeatedly recommended and you’re likely to buy it - just to see what the fuss is about. That’s where the “Books I bought because I was influenced to do so, however I’ve never read them but they look good on my shelf” category comes in.


All hail the algorithms.

While social-media led book communities are nothing new, TikTok has proven most influential thanks to their aggressively attuned algorithm. Think about it; if the algorithms can sift through your interests with a fine-toothed comb, what makes you think your book recommendations would be anything but right on the money?

Going through a break up? Here are the best books for broken-hearts. 

Going on vacay? Here are your best beach reads. 

Going on a health kick? Here are the best books for your best bod.   

And with such customized recommendations, the likelihood of enjoying your book is much greater. This has resulted in a new generation of people nurturing their relationship with reading, and making the book boom even bigger. 


Chart-changing influence. 

Booktokkers are coming in with a bang and publishers are taking note. On an app like TikTok, recommendations can catch on like wildfire. 

Take best-selling author, Sally Rooney and her newest book ‘Beautiful World Where Are You?’  It has a whopping 3.5 million views on its hashtag, not to mention content for days. 

Short and sharp once again, videos under the hashtag include: 

  • My favourite lines from Beautiful World, Where Are You? 

  • 5 things wrong with Beautiful World, Where Are You? 

  • My dream casting for Beautiful World, Where Are You? 

Yes, it’s digestible content, but it also makes books approachable; something anyone could read. And this change in tone has created a sense of inclusivity in an often elitist community. 

But it’s not just new books biting their way through the algorithms and onto the charts. Old releases are trending too. 

‘It Ends With Us’ by Colleen Hoover was released in 2016 to moderate success. But 5 years after its release, the book went viral on TikTok and emerged suddenly at the top of the charts. The influence of booktokkers is irrefutable. 


The involvement of industry. 

With any industry, there’s a fine line between the art of influence and the art of selling out.

Here we see a potential threat to the sanctity of Booktok. Still a fairly untouched place, Booktok runs the risk of being infiltrated by publishers. And while many booktokkers receive free books and disclaim it is a book they’re excited to read, what happens when they’re paid to review it? To share it? To promote it? 

With recommendations making the bookworld go round, what happens when recommendations become too #sponsored?

It’s worth bookmarking and coming back to.

Hard-back or kindle-er, dog-ear or bookmarker, reading has ricocheted through the digital landscape and landed right between our fingertips. It shows us the power of influencers can be found - and used - in any industry. 


Need a book recommendation? We’ve got plenty. 

Need help with digital? We can help with that.

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