What Is BookTok? And Is It Worth the Hype?

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  • Alex Lefkowitz
    (Author)

    Alex Lefkowitz is the founder and CEO of Tasty Edits. He holds a BA in Entrepreneurship and is an experienced video editor, having edited hundreds of videos for dozens of creators before starting his own video editing company. Since launching Tasty Edits, he has directly managed thousands of video and thumbnail orders. Now, he draws on his experience working with professional creators to write about video editing, the creator economy, and video marketing. You can also read his work on Hackernoon and Medium. Plus, he's contributed several expert opinions in interviews and articles as a guest on platforms like Jotform.

    View all posts

BookTok is one of the most viral hashtags on TikTok, with over 245 billion views and 31 million posts.

It has made the careers of influencers, catapulted unknown authors onto the New York Times bestseller list, and commandeered entire shelves in bookstores. 

But what exactly is BookTok? And is it worth engaging with as a reader or creator? 

Here’s everything you need to know about #booktok

Quick Facts

  • BookTok is a community about reading and living the bookworm lifestyle. It exploded during the pandemic.
  • Today, BookTokers are a major factor for the publishing industry.
  • Criticism includes a commercialization of reading and lack of variety.

Keep reading for the full scoop!

Contents

what is booktok,booktok hype

What Is BookTok?

BookTok is a community on TikTok that gained massive popularity during the pandemic lockdowns in 2020. It is now a major force in the creator economy.

BookTok creators AKA BookTokers make videos about all the different aspects of life as a bookworm – organizing their collections, reviewing their favorite novels, and losing themselves in their reading.

While there’s a massive range of genres that BookTok discusses, there’s a strong focus on fantasy, romance, and more general young adult (YA) fiction. BookTokers also often focus on minority writers underrepresented in the traditional publishing industry, including LGBTQ+ and BIPOC authors.

Nowadays, BookTok is so huge that it has become a serious factor for many publishers, who send free copies to creators and encourage their authors to promote their writing on the platform. There are quite a few writers singing its praises, too.

What’s more, many bookstores now have entire shelves dedicated to novels that have achieved BookTok fame, including giants like Barnes & Noble. 

Some of the many books that were propelled to fame by BookTok are The Song of Achilles, Heartstopper, Verity, She Who Became the Sun, and Red White and Royal Blue

Let’s take the latter as an example. Written by Casey McQuiston and published in 2019, Red White and Royal tells the story of a British prince and the son of an American president falling in love. It went viral on BookTok, with #redwhiteandroyalblue receiving over 500 million views within months. As a result, the book spent over 20 weeks on the NYT bestseller list. It was then adapted into an Amazon Prime movie – which became the platform’s most-watched film worldwide for three weeks. 

Both the book and the movie Red White and Royal Blue became global hits thanks to BookTok.

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Is BookTok Worth It?

So is BookTok worth engaging with as a reader and a creator? 

As a creator, it can absolutely pay off. The publishing industry is now forging close ties with BookTokers to promote their latest releases, using avenues such as the TikTok Creator Marketplace

It is quite lucrative for some. According to a survey published by Vox, popular BookTokers make as much as $2,000 to $4,000 per sponsored post. 

As a reader, whether it’s worth engaging with BookTok depends on your tastes. Many creators on BookTok are young women, which leads to the genre bias outlined above.

Plus, there has been serious criticism of BookTok. Some hardcore readers call it reductive, focusing on the same few dozen books over and over instead of promoting a variety of fiction. 

There’s certainly some truth to this: Publishers can and will book dozens of the largest creators for book launches. TikTok’s own algorithm does its part to drive a hype once it gets going.

If you want variety, you will have to actively look for creators that interest you and engage with them. Only then will they actually appear on your FYP, instead of BookTok’s own kind of mainstream.

Many also claim that major BookTokers are no longer in it for the love of reading but follow a commercial formula instead to maximize audience engagement – and income. In short, they say they’ve commodified reading into an aesthetic, hot-girlifiying the bookworm.

BookTokers have attracted some serious criticism.

The Last Word

So, what’s the bottom line on BookTok? 

Whether BookTok is right for you as a creator or reader depends on your personal tastes – and on the way you engage with the books you read and with your audience. 

Whether you’re a fan or not, though, BookTokers have become a major force in the publishing world – #booktok is too big to ignore

FAQs

To access BookTok, you have to log into TikTok and simply type the hashtag into the search bar.

Which book is most popular on BookTok varies. Some of the community’s all-time favorites include The Song of Achilles and Red White and Royal Blue.

BookTok became incredibly popular during the lockdowns of 2020. Since then, the sub-community on TikTok has expanded and developed into a global community of readers, reviewers, and authors.

Yes. BookTok creators have been known to earn as much as $2,000 to $4,000 per sponsored post.

BookTok influencers – or BookTokers – are TikTok creators who specialize in content centered around reading, including book recommendations and reviews, book-related sketches, and tips on how to organize your shelves and find new authors.

Author

  • Alex Lefkowitz

    Alex Lefkowitz is the founder and CEO of Tasty Edits. He holds a BA in Entrepreneurship and is an experienced video editor, having edited hundreds of videos for dozens of creators before starting his own video editing company. Since launching Tasty Edits, he has directly managed thousands of video and thumbnail orders. Now, he draws on his experience working with professional creators to write about video editing, the creator economy, and video marketing. You can also read his work on Hackernoon and Medium. Plus, he's contributed several expert opinions in interviews and articles as a guest on platforms like Jotform.

    View all posts