Ever heard someone say, “Print is dead?” Well, the thriving BookTok community is here to prove them dead wrong.
TikTok users have viewed the #BookTok hashtag over 75.1 billion times, and publishers have claimed it has reignited a love for reading, especially among Gen Z and millennials.
So what is this unique community? And how can publishers and booksellers forge authentic connections with prominent #BookTok creators to find the best book promotion ideas? You’ll just have to read to the end to find out.
What is BookTok?
BookTok is a community of readers within TikTok where people can discuss their latest reads, favorite stories, and TBR (to be read) lists.
@amys_bookshelf If only 😭🙏🏻 #Books #BookTok #Bookish #Bookworm #FavouriteBooks #AlwaysReading #NeverEndingTBR ♬ Originalton – Alisa
And beyond the overarching #BookTok category, there are sub-communities, like #AustenTok, #ThrillerTok, and #PoetryTok.
@jackbenedwards I hope it doesn’t require much Persuasion to get you to join the #TikTokBookClub !!!! the first book we’re reading is this Jane Austen classic!! #austentok #booktok ♬ original sound – MARLEE😈
And while BookTok is a place for people to connect about their love of reading, it’s also a major industry disruptor. According to eMarketer and NPD Group, BookTok helped fuel a 9% year-over-year increase in book sales in 2021, and as of July 2022, sales for print books are up another 50% from 2021.
This major surge in interest may seem too good to be true, but publishers, bookstores, and authors alike should consider getting in on the action.
Why is BookTok so popular?
BookTok is so popular because it feels like a best friend giving you their thoughts on different stories. The recommendations are truly authentic.
While the videos may contain some of the same content a person would include in a Goodreads review, the format is more dynamic and attention-grabbing. And the ability to comment and engage with the curator allows for advanced discussions.
Why is TikTok the best social media platform for books?
TikTok’s short-form videos are the perfect format for a quick and engaging book review. They’re more dynamic than a caption under a photo of the book, and by limiting the length to three minutes, reviewers have to keep them short and sweet, meaning they aren’t giving away too many details.
TikTok is further fueling this love with the creation of the official TikTok Book Club, sponsored by Amazon Books. Each month, the platform will designate one book pick, and readers can gather in the #BookClub hub to share their thoughts. TikTok has even named five BookTok Laureates to lead the discussion each month.
Authors sharing the stories behind their stories
@alysonandrachael a lot can happen in six years! #wlw #lgbtqbooks #sapphicbooks #pridemonth #foryou #PerfectPrideMovement ♬ Angeleyes (Sped Up Version) – april aries bae (SVT)
Authors use these videos to provide context to their stories, share their personal experiences, and further humanize the book. This is a great way to engage with existing fans of the book while drumming up excitement for those who haven’t yet read it.
If you’re considering doing this, be sure to engage with commenters. Thank them for their compliments, and answer their questions.
Themed book lists
@parnassusbooksnashville Replying to @Erika Romance books as cozy as a fall evening🍂 #romancebooks #booktok #romancetok #autumnvibes #bookrecs #indiebookstore #bookrecs #romancerecs ♬ original sound – lucia <3
There’s nothing more satisfying than finishing an amazing book and convincing others to read it too. That’s why creators will curate lists based on genre, the emotions they generated, and more.
On-the-spot book recommendations
@schulerbooks If you haven’t read these fantastic books, this is your sign to do it! What book do YOU wish you could read for the first time again? #booktok #bookrecs #readinglist #reread #rereading #bookish #favoritebooks ♬ BACHATA – Freddy Petit
Often taking place in a library or bookstore, these videos involve going up to an employee and asking for a very specific recommendation. From there, they weave through the stacks to find the perfect pick.
Why should publishers, bookstores, and authors consider BookTok? Book promotion ideas
Frankly, the sales from BookTok speak for themselves. According to NPD Group, BookTok helped generate $20 million in book sales in 2021.
Beyond that, BookTok allows you to reach new audiences, generate excitement for reading, and promote new and old stories alike.
There are several ways to get in on the BookTok action, both on the platform and in real life. Booksellers can curate tables of top-recommended books so visitors can quickly find them. Publishers can send out new releases to top BookTokkers to drum up excitement.
Best BookTok marketing campaigns
Netflix and Persuasion
@li.reading And there you have it, my final Persuasion review. #booktok#books#BookClub#TikTokBookClub#austentok#persuasion#janeausten#classics#frederickwentworth#anneelliot#bookish#lireading ♬ original sound – Alicia (Li)🌙
Even though the media giant doesn’t publish or sell books, Netflix frequently adapts them into shows and movies. Ahead of the release of their adaptation of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, the media giant partnered with the official TikTok Book Club and Amazon Books to make the novel the inaugural pick.
Along with the help of the BookTok Laureates, the community developed a ton of content about the story and drove interest in the movie.
Harper Collins and Tandem Collective
@retoldbyrebecca Mark it on your calendar! @tandemcollective @hachetteanz #foryou #fyp #tandemreadalong #heartstopperreadalong #bookrecommendations #readalong ♬ original sound – 🌱 Rebecca 🌿
Harper Collins, a major publisher, enlisted the help of Tandem Collective, an agency connecting book-loving creators with brands looking to promote their books. Together, they’ve hosted “Read Alongs” on Instagram and TikTok where they send creators a new book as well as discussion topics. The BookTokkers encourage their fans to purchase the book and read along with them by giving dates to read specific sections of the book, and then they come together in the comments section to go over the talking points.
This structure is incredibly engaging and allows readers to make a stronger connection with their favorite creators.
Reese’s Book Club
@stuartbrazell #ad I love #ReesesBookClub #bookclub #cozyvibes #booktok @reesesbookclub ♬ LA LA LAND (Part 1) – Official Sound Studio
While most people are familiar with the bright yellow Reese’s Book Club stickers that adorn specific novels in their favorite stores, many don’t realize that the brand also produces curated boxes for everything a person needs to truly relax into a good story, from cozy socks to delicious coffee.
To increase awareness, Reese’s Book Club sent these to creators for unboxing videos where they discuss what they got and showcase them getting comfortable while reading the latest novel.
How to leverage creators for the ultimate BookTok marketing campaign
Find avid readers.
The first step in finding creators is finding whether you want to reach general BookTok or a more niche sub-community. Big publishers or bookstores promoting a variety of stories should stick to more generic creators, but if there are a few specific books you want to promote, you may want to get more specific. Some subcategories include:
Basically, just add “Tok” to the end of any genre to find a sub-community.
Type the hashtag into TikTok and browse creators. Once you find a few you like, use GRIN’s free Web Extension to check out some of their data, including their follower count, engagement rate, and more.
And while it may be appealing to pick the creators with the largest follower counts, remember that sometimes nano and micro influencers can generate more audience engagement, leading to better results.
Now that you know who you want to partner with, reach out. You can send them a DM and introduce yourself and your brand. From there, you can see if they’re interested and work out a mutually beneficial agreement.
Give creators time to read (and fall in love with) your books.
Some members of BookTok are speed readers, while others take a more leisurely approach. This is important to inquire about during the initial conversations with creators, especially if you’re looking for content by a specific date.
Otherwise, give them the time they need to take in the story. When they can thoroughly discuss the elements of the book that make it special, they can captivate their audience and spur action. But if they only have time to take a surface-level look, their review will sound like almost any other and won’t produce the results you’re hoping for.
Offer creative freedom.
Every BookTokker has their own style, whether it’s sharing a book haul, going deep into the themes of a story, or highlighting aspects of a novel with trending TikTok sounds and effects. They know what their audience likes to see, so when partnering with creators, give them the freedom to create the kind of content they know will resonate.
When negotiating with creators, be sure to ask for content usage rights, as their posts can be extremely beneficial to incorporate into other elements of your book marketing campaign. For example, you can upload videos to your Amazon product listing pages to help people considering your book make a purchase. You can also repost it on your social media channels, add it to email marketing efforts, or post them on your website.
It’s important to measure the results of your campaign so you can make optimizations as you go and prove your program’s value. You can use spreadsheets to track your key performance indicators, or you can opt for a creator management platform.
Top BookTok creators
@li.reading let’s pretend it’s not a week late. I was busy getting old. #booktok#books#bookish#bookclub#readingwrapup#honeyandspice#crimeandpunishment#dostoyevsky#bolubablola#openwater#calebazumahnelson#thebookthief#markuszusak#lgbtbooktok#lireading ♬ original sound – Alicia (Li)🌙
Alicia, the face behind li.reading, is one of the five inaugural TikTok Book Club Book Laureates, and she’s known for going into depth about the books she reads, including their strengths and weaknesses. Because she provides so much detail (without spoilers), her content is truly authentic and can help readers make informed decisions about their next pick.
Check out more of Alicia’s picks on Goodreads and The StoryGraph.
happy national book lovers day! PICK UP A BOOK.
Marines Alvarez is a passionate advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in both books and the publishing industry. She regularly discusses problematic aspects of new books and educates her viewers on harmful representation. She also runs a book club on Chirp and is a co-captain of The Snark Squad podcast.
You can also find Mari on YouTube, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, and The Snark Squad podcast.
The Novel Neighbor
@novelneighbor cozy fall reads are here! 🍁🍂 #cozyreads #fallreads #autumnbooks #witchybooks #fantasyromance #fantasyromancebooks #romancebooktok #tbr #falltbr ♬ original sound – The Novel Neighbor
The Novel Neighbor is an indie bookstore in St. Louis, and its employees bring their love for stories and bubbly personalities to every TikTok they make. From themed book recommendations to commentary on the latest news in the bookselling world, they have everything a BookTok viewer could want.
Learn more about The Novel Neighbor on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
@tayrosen All Good People Here review @Ashley Flowers #ad #allgoodpeoplehere #boootok ♬ Once Again – Outra Vez – Stan Getz
Taylor Rosen brings humor to each and every one of his book reviews, even if the novel’s subject is no laughing matter. Whether it’s a full video talking about the ups and downs of a book or using a trending TikTok sound to describe what everyone feels when reading a specific story, Taylor keeps his audience entertained.
@literarylola_ Brb starting love on the brain🤪 #booktok #loveonthebrain #alihazelwood #thedeadromantics #barnsandnoble #bookshopping #bookhaul #bookvlog #romancebooks #romancebookrecs #spicybooks #romcombooks #fyp #bookish @bnbuzz ♬ Feels So Easy – Ber
Lola is a self-proclaimed “professional binge reader,” and she’s currently read 100 books in 2022 alone. If you’re looking for some speed recommendations, watch a few of Lola’s videos. Her book hauls are a whirlwind, and you’re sure to find your next great read.
You can also find Lola on Instagram, YouTube, and Goodreads.
@hey.itsluke A tiny glimpse into the life of a bookseller 🙂 #fyp#foryou#books#booktok#bookish#bookworm#bookstan#bookrecommendations#bookclub ♬ original sound – GemsOnVHS
Luke is a 19-year-old bookseller at an independent shop. His content ranges from book recommendations to peeks into the life of a person working at a bookstore and more. He frequently shares LGBTQIA+ books he thinks his viewers will like, and he talks about books that discuss current social issues.
Key takeaway: BookTok is the ultimate place to market the written word.
Ready to take on the world of BookTok. Creators are the key to helping you stand out in this vibrant community, and with the right content, you can see your sales go through the roof. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your books in the hands of some very influential people.
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