18 Jan BookTok – How social media sparked a Gen Z reading boom
I read recently about an unexpected crossover between Gen Z’s social media activity and book sales.
An article in the Daily Telegraph says, young people are ‘flooding into bookshops’ to buy books recommended by TikTok video creators known as ‘BookTokkers’.
The owners of the London bookshop that inspired the film Notting Hill say book sales have more than doubled since the COVID pandemic.
They’re not the only ones. Many booksellers have been feeling the effect of social media on their sales and are making the most of it by creating dedicated ‘as seen on TikTok’ shelves and display tables. Last year, Waterstones Piccadilly even hosted a BookTok festival.
The Telegraph says, “The hashtag ‘#booktok’ has been used on more than 215 billion videos on TikTok. Young women are the most avid watchers, and research by The Publishers’ Association found that three in five 16- to 25-year-olds say BookTok has inspired their ‘passion for reading'”.
By the way, this includes all types of books – everything from the latest ‘romantasy’ genre (a combination of romance and fantasy apparently) to classic works.
It’s fair to say there is a perception among those for whom TikTok is not a social media platform of choice (yes, I mean older people) that it is just about influencers and wannabe celebs peddling spurious goods and advice to gullible youngsters, who really should be spending time doing something more worthwhile than staring at their phones.
This story shows that it’s lazy to make judgements about modern communication platforms, as well young people themselves, based on our own (older person) prejudices and ignorance. In this case it has led to a resurgence in young people taking up reading – and reading real books. TikTok is just a means by which young people choose to be informed. Marketers ignore it at their peril. Think of it as a massive word-of-mouth opportunity that can help you reach an audience that may well be otherwise, unattainable.
Picture of the author; a typical TikTok user.