The book business is booming, thanks to TikTok

Publishing professionals may worry that screen entertainment will interfere with reading. But this is not necessarily the case. In the UK, the book industry saw its sales soar last year thanks to the #BookTok phenomenon.

In recent months, short videos devoted to book reviews and recommendations have appeared all over TikTok. These clips, grouped under the hashtag #BookTok, have totaled more than 49.7 billion views on the app, which is a favorite among young people.

In the UK, these videos have even boosted book sales. Sector sales reached £6.7 billion (about $8.5 million) in 2021, according to the latest annual report publishers association report. This represents a 5% increase over the previous year. This increase is all the more surprising since the restrictions linked to Covid-19 forced bookstores to close for many months. Threats of paper shortages have also led to major price hikes and timing issues in the publishing industry.

Despite these difficulties, the Covid-19 succeeded in showing anyone who still doubted that “reading is cool.” Celebrities have swapped photos of their luxurious getaways for more intimate shots from their shelves, while avid readers have taken refuge on TikTok, sharing their passion with the social network’s millions of users.

This phenomenon has not gone unnoticed in the book trade, according to Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association. “2021 has been another great year for UK publishing. Our exceptional authors have provided readers with much-needed entertainment and comfort as the pandemic continues. It has been especially exciting to see TikTok communities spark a new interest in books – especially fiction and young adult titles,” he said in a statement.

Create new classics

Both segments saw healthy growth in 2021, according to figures from the Publishers Association. Fiction book sales increased 7% to £733m (approx. $934m), while children’s fiction sales were at £425m (approx. $542m) .

BookTok There is a lot to do with it, even if budding columnists on the social network mainly recommend books released a few years ago, rather than the latest releases. Novelist Sarah J. Maas, for example, recently saw sales of “A Court of Thorns and Roses” skyrocket, despite the book’s release in 2015. Authors Madeline Miller and Leigh Bardugo enjoyed similar success with ” The Song of Achilles” and the “Grisha Trilogy” series.

Publishers and other book industry professionals are now trying to ride the #BookTok wave by making themselves known on the social network. Random penguin houseThe account has more than 27,000 followers, for example. But that’s nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands of people who follow the recommendations and reviews of BookTokers like Ayman Chaudhary (@aymancbooks), Jaysen Headley (@ezeekat) and Abby Parker (@abbysbooks). Proof, if it were needed, that reading is still a popular activity.

Colin L. Johnson