Exploring the BookTok phenomenon/
There is no question which is the key marketing tool of the moment. It is TikTok, or more specifically, BookTok. The New York Times has just explored the affect the social media phenomenon is having on book sales.
‘Books by the writer Colleen Hoover, for example, became a sensation on TikTok,’ the paper notes, ‘and Ms. Hoover is now one of the best-selling authors in the country. NPD BookScan, which tracks the sale of most printed books in the United States, said that of the 10 best-selling books so far this year, Ms. Hoover has written four.’
Rather in the way some people feel in the west feel about those in authority or commercial companies, consumers are wary of fakes. But if someone is being genuine, then affection for that person’s message becomes very powerful. Fans of the site say that BookTok is the home of the genuine. People recognise that this is ordinary people posting, not a publisher’s marketing department, and it seems they recognise that message for what it is – something unspun that can be trusted.
The paper says: ‘BookTok is not dominated by the usual power players in the book world such as authors and publishers but by regular readers, many of them young, who share recommendations and videos of themselves talking about the books they love, sometimes weeping or screaming or tossing a copy across the room.’
BookTok has the power to lift certain titles to the bestseller shelves, but the titles in question can be surprising. One such is Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, a love story between two men, Achilles and Patroclus. Not necessarily a title to, ahem, fly off airport shelves.
Published in 2012 with an initial print run of 20,000 copies, The Song of Achilles has sold two million copies across all formats, according to its This month, its publisher, Ecco – and all due to readers enthusing on BookTok.
Miriam Parker, Ecco’s associate publisher, said this type of sales record for a book like The Song of Achilles is more than remarkable.
“It never happens,” she said. “This is a book about the Iliad!”
The article concludes with this admission from the author. “I am still not on TikTok. I remain very bad at social media…”