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  • BookTok: the renaissance of literature on TikTok

    If you thought that literature was reaching fewer and fewer young people, you might change your mind. Indeed, for a few months now, the hashtag #BookTok has been spreading and has become popular on TikTok. We explain.
    4 min

    For those who do not know TikTok yet

    TikTok is a social network whose goal is to publish short videos, a big difference with the Youtube platform in particular. Most of the time, these are mini musical clips following the platform’s main principle: the creator films himself on a sound and then publishes the video to his audience. Those were the early days of TikTok. Today, TikTok has diversified enormously and no longer offers only musical content. We are now entitled to many TikTok comics, cultural or artistic, etc.. 

    Nevertheless, the principle remains essentially the same. A user records a short video with background music. Once your video has been filmed, TikTok offers you the possibility to add effects or text to your video. Then it’s time to publish. 

    To give you a better idea of how popular this application is (and if you were still in doubt), here are some key figures. In July 2021, TikTok announced that it had passed the 3 billion downloads mark worldwide. In September, the platform passed the 1 billion monthly active visitors mark. These figures are colossal and represent a real strategic communication opportunity for brands wishing to launch their next Influence Marketing campaigns on this social network.

    The #BookTok phenomenon

    A real treasure trove for literature fans, the #BookTok has no less than 4.4 billion views on the TikTok platform. Through the videos published under this hashtag, you will find many reading fans, some of whom have become bookfluencers, discussing their favourite books (Source: lemonde). 

    It should be noted that this hashtag is mainly based on a rather young type of literature. However, there is a huge Harry Potter fanbase, among others, which discusses this work in the comments of many TikToks. 

    In these short videos, the Tiktokers explain the different plots and characters in the book that they want to share. Some creators go even further and dare to reproach the authors for the negative points of their books. The literature discussed on this platform is nevertheless light and accessible to all. We are not talking about a literature course here, but about entertainment above all.

    An engaging and committed community

    As you can see, the #BookTok brings together a very special community: fans of reading and literature in general. And this phenomenon continues to grow: some people even speak of « Booktokers » to designate someone who is part of this community and who shares content about it on TikTok. 

     

    If you’re not a regular TikTok user, you should know the following. The platform offers two styles of news feeds. One, which will feature videos shared by accounts you’ve subscribed to. A second, which will share viral videos that you might like. This second news feed is therefore calculated according to what you are used to liking and watching. This way, if you’re a literature fan who spends hours on #BookTok, you’ll have more content on that topic in your news feed. The sense of community will then be even more pronounced. 

     

    This sense of community has encouraged many users to create a TikTok account and join this large community. TikTok is a social network that allows people to escape and be part of communities that would be more complicated to be part of in real life. Other users use the hashtag #BookTok to call for literary progress. This allows them to call for more inclusion (especially towards the LGBTQ+ community) and diversification

     

    Already widely popular today, #BookTok can only become more popular in the future. We realise that writers themselves are now joining the platform to promote their work. It also allows them to explain to their audience how and why they wrote the book, in what context, what conditions. These writers include Eli Hinze, who wrote « Stolen Sun ». Or Fiona Lucas, writer of the very popular ‘The Last Goodbye’. The BookTok phenomenon allows these authors to share things with their fans that they wouldn’t normally be able to share. TikTok opens up a whole new dimension for them.

    A huge opportunity for publishing houses

    One of the books that has been most successful in tapping into this trend is « The Song of Achilles », written in 2012 by Madeline Miller. The book has been able to capitalise on this trend and become a huge success. Today, the #thesongofachilles has more than 97.2M views. The principle made in TikTok? Internet users film themselves after reading the book and give their first emotions. The author of the book explained in an interview with the New York Times that she felt an incredible sense of pride when she saw all these reactions. 

    It is now a fact. Literature has taken and found a huge place on TikTok in recent months. This is a real opportunity for publishers who have seen their sales figures soar since the creation of #BookTok and the emergence of BookTokers. Miriam Parker, vice-president of ECO Publishing, who was involved in the publication of « Song of Achilles », says she noticed a huge increase in sales of the book during August, but doesn’t understand why. 

    The reason for this craze is simply Selene Velez, an 18-year-old American woman living in Los Angeles. In one of her videos, she advised her subscribers to read « The Song of Achilles ». As a result, the video has been viewed more than 6 million times on the platform. A real boost for the book’s publisher. 

    A trend affecting the younger generation

    As we know from numerous studies, young people have been less and less fond of literature for years (Source: France Culture). TikTok has reversed this trend with this growing hashtag. Thanks to it, reading among the youngest is back in fashion, since the platform is composed of a majority of them. 

    A perfect blend of virtual and real life, #BookTok and its community are a real place of relaxation for all literature lovers of all kinds. If you like to spend your time discovering new things and venturing into areas you didn’t know existed, BookTok is well worth a visit.