TikTok is the hottest book club

The TikTok hashtag #BookTok is driving fiction sales and turning a few humble authors into superstars.

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TikTok is the hottest book club


The Future. The TikTok hashtag #BookTok is driving fiction sales and turning a few humble authors into superstars. It’s the perfect distillation of how grassroots word of mouth can be contagious. Just like how labels are increasingly pressuring musicians to be active on TikTok, expect publishers to develop their own TikTok strategy for authors to help craft the conversation around their work.

Repeat bestsellers
Per NYT, Oprah and Reese Witherspoon have some competition when it comes to bringing books into the cultural conversation — TikTok.

  • The influence is fueled by videos with the hashtag #BookTok, which typically features young readers reacting very emotionally to books they’ve read.
  • The most popular genres among readers include romance, adult fiction, YA, sci-fi, fantasy, and even some classics like The Great Gatsby and Wuthering Heights.
  • Interestingly, the biggest hits are typically a few years old, which is unusual for how book sales typically happen.
  • According to NPD BookScan, the hashtag helped fuel the sale of 20 million books last year. That number is up another 50% this year.

#BookTok has minted literary stars out of Colleen Hoover (It Ends with Us) and Madeline Miller (The Song of Achilles). Hoover is now behind four of the top ten best-selling novels in the country, while Miller’s Achilles has sold 2 million copies this month, despite only selling 20,000 copies in its original run back in 2012.

Filter for the good reads
BookScan says that no other social platform has had such an effect on sales. Executive director of business development Kristen McLean saying that TikTok has “made the transition from a novelty to a real anchor for the market,” making it a more important destination for influence than “dominating supermarket shelves, dominating airport stores, dominating the front tables at bookstores.”

And bookstores themselves want in on the action to boost sales. After putting books that have blown up on TikTok front and center at its stores, Barnes & Noble (B&N) struck an official partnership with the platform to curate users’ summer reading lists. That includes a #BookTok landing page on the platform featuring best-of videos from the hashtag and links to books at B&N that people are talking about.

All in all, it looks like short-form video could help save the written word.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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