(ETX Daily Up) – Publishing professionals fear that overexposure to screens comes at the expense of reading. But this is not necessarily the case. In the UK, the book industry saw its turnover skyrocket last year thanks to the #BookTok phenomenon.
In recent months, short videos dedicated to book reviews and recommendations have appeared on TikTok. These clips, grouped under the hashtag #BookTok, have more than 49.7 billion views on the young people’s favorite app.
In the UK, they even boosted book sales figures. The turnover of the sector reached 6,700 million pounds sterling (about 8 million euros) in 2021, according to the latest annual report of the Publishers Association. That’s a 5% increase compared to the previous year. This progression is all the more surprising as the health restrictions linked to Covid have forced bookstores to close for many months. Paper shortage threats have also caused significant price increases and delivery time problems in the publishing market.
Despite these difficulties, Covid-19 will have shown those who still doubted it that “reading is cool”. Celebrities have swapped photos of their lavish getaways for more intimate shots of their libraries, while book enthusiasts have taken refuge on TikTok to share their passion with the social network’s millions of users.
This phenomenon has not gone unnoticed by book professionals, according to Stephen Lotinga, CEO of the Publishers Association. “2021 has been another great year for UK publishing. Our exceptional authors have provided readers with much-needed entertainment and comfort as the pandemic continues. It has been especially exciting to see TikTok communities spark new interest in books, especially fiction and young adult titles,” he said in a statement.
Create new classics
Both segments saw strong growth in 2021, according to figures from the Publishers Association. Fiction book sales rose 7% to £733m (around €873m), while children’s fiction sales reached £425m (around €506m).
BookTok has a lot going for it, though the social network’s budding literary critics mostly recommend books published a few years ago and not the latest releases. Novelist Sarah J. Maas recently saw an explosion in sales for “A Palace of Thorns and Roses” and “The Prisoner” (from the “Keleana” series), though they were released in 2015 and 2016. Authors Madeline Miller and Leigh Bardugo experienced a similar infatuation with “The Song of Achilles” and the “Grisha” saga.
Publishers and other book professionals are trying to ride the #BookTok wave by launching on the social network. Hachette Romans’ account is followed by more than 42,000 subscribers, while Penguin Random House’s has more than 27,000. But that’s nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands of people who follow the recommendations and reviews of book brokers like Ayman Chaudhary (@aymancbooks), Jaysen Headley (@ezeekat), and Abby Parker (@abbysbooks). The proof that the book is still liked.