You Should Let the BookTok Teens Find Your Next Read

A TikTok screenshot of a stack of books overlaid with the text "convincing you to read my favorite books by just telling you their first line."

Screenshot: @bookishizz/TikTok (Fair Use)

TikTok is a creator’s paradise, and these days, more than just fashion influencers and aspiring comedians are clogging the platform. A new community has blossomed on the app, and it’s made up of users, many of them teens, plugging books—a pretty unlikely product, as far as social media boosterism goes.

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If your reading habits have grown a little stale, but you don’t want to be sold to by a publishing newsletter and you don’t have the time for a book club, you should give BookTok a try—this burgeoning corner of the social media world is full of readers with opinions. Here’s a primer on how to make the most of “BookTok.”

What is BookTok?

It’s a wildly popular community on TikTok, in which users celebrate book culture and stump for their favorite authors and reads. Calling it massive is doing it a disservice—the hashtag #booktok has 13 billion views as of this writing—and it has caught on to such an extent that the publishing industry is already attempting to hitch a ride on its viral coattails. Even stodgy old Barnes & Noble is keeping tabs on the hottest titles making the rounds on BookTok, an undeniably a savvy business move.

If you’re already familiar with TikTok and its core demographics—41 percent of users are between the ages of 16 and 24, according to an Omnicore survey—then BookTok’s trending titles will make sense: Young Adult books have a good deal of clout among members of the community, as do Romance, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and, to a lesser extent, general works of fiction (including some classics).

See below for an examples of a how a BookTok post might uh, unfold:

What books are blowing up on BookTok?

According to a report from NBC News, Barnes & Noble has seen upticks in sales for some titles that it attributes entirely to posts on TikTok. Shannon DeVito, director of books at Barnes & Noble, told the website the book peddler is adapting to the viral popularity of BookTok-blessed books by putting up dedicated #BookTok displays in stores all over the country. “I know I have so many customers coming in saying, ‘I saw this trending on TikTok,’” she said.

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Titles that have caught fire include:

You get the gist: Many of these books cater to the tastes of TikTok’s core user base, which is generally young and Extremely Online. If you’re at all into the core areas that regularly occupy the attention of those on the app, you’ll find yourself immersed in good recommendations. As Faith Young, who posts about books as @hellyeahbooks, told The Guardian: “What people really love on Booktok is fantasy romance. If you tell someone that there’s a romance when they try to kill each other, that’s it, sold.”

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The best BookTok hashtags to follow

Following a few choice hashtags will launch you straight into the BookTok ecosystem. They are, fittingly enough, straightforward and appropriately bookish: The hashtag #BookTok itself will get you going, but a series of others—including #ReadingTok, #BookWorm, #BookStan, #BookClub, #YAbooks, and #Publishing—are among the (many) others you might encounter while swimming through BookTok. Any of them should point ultimately you in the direction of a book you’ll love, and might get you posting videos of your own.

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