[imagesource: Ryan MacEachern/Penguin]
When my TikTok algorithm caught on that I like reading, I was being recommended books by folks with cool hair and emotional depth left, right, and centre.
I got so caught up in their enthusiasm that I immediately went out and bought some of the more popular books punted on #BookTok, a hashtag that has now attracted more than 37,5 billion views.
That includes three of the books that benefitted most from “the TikTok effect”; The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Read (it was fun), It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover (still in the works), and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (stunning).
Another one that is frequently recommended is Sally Rooney’s Normal People, which I have since seen on every single beach and at all the cafes this summer.
Suffice to say, this quirky, bookwormy part of TikTok is bringing reading back and making bookstores thrive again:
The Telegraph, on the curious combination of ‘blue hair and tears’ sending book sales through the roof, spoke with the managing director of Waterstones and chief executive of the US chain Barnes & Noble, James Daunt.
He said “bookfluencers” on the social media app are largely to thank for the book boom, with some even making a few classics unlikely viral sensations (Ulysses for example):
Mr Daunt said they were helping to make bookshops popular with young people, reminding him of the decade from 1997-2007 which saw publication of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
“It is back to that kind of energy in our stores. Our challenge now is that we absolutely have to keep those customers, as we did with the Harry Potter generation. It stepped booksellers up and it stepped book sales up,” Mr Daunt told a bookselling conference in Italy, reported in The Bookseller.
He quipped that “people with blue hair” generally do better in the game of selling books online compared to “people with sensible haircuts”.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported on this phenomenon with the headline How Crying on TikTok Sells Books, delving into how tear-jerking, life-swaying books tend to do really well on the platform.
Here’s 22-year-old Abby Parker, who has amassed more than 428 000 followers for talking about her favourite books:
@abbysbooks I started so well then uni got me #bookworm #booktok #fyp #reading #wrapup #wrapupbooks ♬ RIBS by Lorde – simone brown
Ever since this has become a thing, bookshops have been reeling it in with their own TikTok accounts and quirky bookfluencers, even setting up special tables with all the #BookTok books for easy browsing.
If you thought Gen Z’s appetite for books was dead, consider yourself sufficiently schooled.
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