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Is BookTok worth it?

TikTok is an app that truly has something for everyone. It’s evolved into much more teens dancing and lip-synching, and now no matter what you’re into, you can find your tribe on TikTok.

One of the most popular and fastest-growing TikTok communities is Booktok. Booktok, which has been labelled as the ‘last wholesome place on the internet, is the side of Tiktok where people create videos recommending their favourite books, reviewing different books, making bookish jokes and generally sharing their love for all things literary all in videos under one minute long. This may sound like a super niche side of the internet, but it’s much more popular than you may think.

As of August 2021, #Booktok has 18.8 billion views on the app! Bibliophiles from all over the world are turning to TikTok to find their newest reads - and it may all be thanks to the pandemic. In March 2020, as the world around us was shutting down, we needed escapism and a sense of community more than ever, Booktok started dominating For You pages everywhere. Unlike its aesthetically pleasing sister Bookstagram, Booktok is made up of more candid and raw content - for example, it isn’t uncommon to see your favourite bookish creators cry in their videos because of a heartbreaking novel they just finished reading.

Some of the most viewed videos in the community include ‘books that had me up sobbing at 3am’, ‘books I wish I could read again for the first time’ and ‘my opinion on popular booktok books’. Reading can be a lonely hobby, but Booktok gives readers a space to interact with like-minded people and share their opinions in an over-all very positive space. Booktok has been praised for encouraging Gen Z to put their phones down and pick up a book - but one look at the bestseller’s list will tell you that this corner of the internet wields more power than you may expect, as its influence has stretched far beyond our phone screens. Many authors have found their back-listed and old titles blowing up thanks to the Booktok community. For example, Simon and Schuster have reported that sales of Adam Silvera’s 2017 young adult science fiction novel, They Both Die At The End, went up by 50% four years after the novel’s initial release after being recommended by popular creators on the app and even ended up back on top of the New York Times’ young adult paperback bestseller list in 2020.

Many other titles including Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, have experienced a huge spike in sales long after their release because of Booktok fame. It seems that when a book gains traction on Bookyok, it’s a matter of time before it starts climbing the charts - this has become known as the Booktok effect. So, it’s no surprise that publishers, bookstores and authors alike are making TikTok part of their marketing strategy. If you’re interested in getting involved on Booktok, it couldn’t be easier! But, there are some acronyms and terms you should know so you don’t get confused if you’re not already in the bookish social media loop.

Consider this your Bookish lingo dictionary:

  • TBR - to be read - it’s pretty common for Booktokers to do TBR videos every month or by season talking about the books they plan on reading.

  • Wrap Up - these are videos about the books Booktokers have read this week/month

  • DNF - some people consider this to be a booktok cardinal sin, but it simply means ‘did not finish’

  • POV - ‘point of view’ videos are popular amongst different bookish fandoms, especially when it comes to the fantasy genre. These are creative videos in which people edit themselves into situations with their favourite characters

  • MC - you may see some Booktokers talk about how they liked or disliked a MC - this means main character!

So, if you’re looking for a wholesome, welcoming space to talk about your favourite books and discover your next read, Booktok is the place to be!

Don’t forget to check out the official Smashbear Tiktok account: @smashbearpublishing!

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