The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

The student news site of Benilde-St. Margaret's School in St. Louis Park, MN

Knight Errant

Tiktokification of Reading

Charlotte Feller
#BookTok has had over 100 billion views on TikTok, increasing book sales and influencing the types of books people read.

As of September 2023, #BookTok, a subcommunity of the popular social media app TikTok, had over 181.7 billion views. TikTok users in the BookTok realm post videos reviewing, promoting, and suggesting books to other readers on the app.

In a survey conducted throughout TikTok, the average American TikTok user reported they read 60% more books compared to before BookTok was widely spread. Furthermore, 62% of TikTok users in the U.S. have read at least one book that’s been recommended to them on BookTok. “The minute a BookTok video goes viral, the sales in my store go up for that book,” bookseller Adrian Cepeda said.

Many BSM students are on BookTok. In a survey sent out by the Knight Errant, 67% of students who responded said that BookTok has encouraged them to read more. Some of the popular books they’ve read include Six of Crows and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, Everything I Know about Love by Dolly Alderton, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, Happy Place by Emily Henry, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, and many others. “Six of Crows and the Shatter Me series have been my favorites. I highly recommend them,” junior Greta Nystuen said.

The sales are increasing for both new books and books that were published less recently. A prime example of this is Colleen Hoover’s book It Ends With Us. Although it was published in 2016, it was the bestselling book of 2021, with over 4 million copies sold worldwide after someone posted a review on BookTok and it went viral. Colleen Hoover has written many other books along with It Ends With Us, and sold over 8 million of her books in 2022.

Another example of a BookTok video influencing sales is Adam Silvera’s book They Both Die at the End. “I kept commenting to my readers, ‘Hey, I don’t know what’s happening, but there’s been a surge in sales lately, so grateful that everybody’s finding the story years later.’ And then that’s when a reader was like, ‘I’m seeing it on BookTok.’ And I had no idea what they were talking about,” Silvera said in an interview with NBC.

Some of the most popular BookTok books BSM students have read. (Charlotte Feller)

While many people have been encouraged to read more, freshman Violet Grendahl found BookTok influenced her differently. “I think I actually read a little less. Because now I go on BookTok to look at videos about books rather than actually reading the books,” Grendahl said.

I think I actually read a little less. Because now I go on BookTok to look at videos about books rather than actually reading the books.”

— Violet Grendahl

Content of BookTok

BookTok has encouraged people to read more books, but sometimes a lot of these books are similar. In a survey, 81% of students who responded said they found that a lot of popular books on BookTok have similar themes and tropes.

Some of these popular tropes are enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, love triangles, fake relationships, forbidden love, and love at first sight. Although many people enjoy these tropes, sometimes they are problematic. “Sometimes [people on BookTok] recommend dark romances with men who are stalkerish and toxic and that’s really creepy and negative to the younger generations reading it,” Grendahl said.

Sometimes the plots of popular BookTok books don’t always make much sense. One such book is Darkness Embraced, written by Tillie Cole. “The main plot is a Ku Klux Klan member falling in love with the daughter of a cartel boss. I don’t know why people like it so much,” freshman Brianna Johnson said.

However, these plots entice a lot of people, and because of the influence BookTok has on bookselling, publishers are partial to the common themes and tropes on BookTok. “Publishers might prioritize works with a higher likelihood of going viral on BookTok and press pause on the publication and promotion of more diverse, original, and high-quality books,” Margaret Pan from Books Are Our Superpower said.

Students at BSM have noticed this change as well as they pick up new books to read. “I think that BookTok has led to books being produced in a way that’s similar to fast fashion. Many poorly written books are being produced and recommended,” Grendahl said.

Some popular BookTok books have been self-published (e.g. The Atlas Six), and some of these books have not been edited enough for consumers. “While reading BookTok darling These Violent Delights, I spotted grammatical errors everywhere, and the lack of thorough editing was glaring. I have been seeing sloppy mistakes like this more often as books are being rushed out to keep up with trends,” Eden Conti said.

BookTok has had both positive and negative influences on the reading community. “[BookTok] has resulted in many people only picking up books they have seen on BookTok instead of being open to different books. However, it is not all black and white. It has also provided a community that encourages people to keep reading. It is an easy way to get recommendations, and has gotten people, who wouldn’t otherwise read, to try reading again,” Grendahl said.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

The Knight Errant intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. As such, we do not permit the use of profanity, foul language, personal attacks, or the use of language that might be interpreted as libelous. Comments are reviewed and must be approved by a moderator to ensure that they meet these standards. The Knight Errant does not allow anonymous comments, and the Knight Errant requires first and last names and a valid email address in order for comments to be published. The email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments.
All Knight Errant Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *