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Notting Hill bookshop Rises Again with BookTok

by | Jan 30, 2024 | News

The fortunes of a Notting Hill bookshop have been turned around by a TikTok trend inspiring Gen Z to read more, the family who owns the iconic store have said.

Sales of books at The Notting Hill Bookshop, which was made famous when it was copied in the 1999 rom-com Notting Hill starring Hugh Grant, have more than doubled since the pandemic.

Younger people looking for books that they have seen in videos online recommended by bloggers known as “BookTokkers” have flooded into stores, pushing up profits by 8.5pc in 2022, according to the Association of American Publishers.

Angelica Malin, whose uncles own the west London bookshop, said: “We’re seeing more and more young people coming into the shop – the BookTok phenomenon is helping people discover new books and authors, and the shop more generally.”

The power of BookTok is so significant that Waterstones said it received its largest number of pre-orders ever for one title in a single day – for Iron Flame, the sequel to TikTok favourite Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros.

The adult fantasy book follows Violet Sorrengail through her studies at Basgiath War College as she battles with a harsh vice-admiral who threatens to come between her and her partner, and was hotly anticipated on BookTok.

Notting Hill bookshop’s Ms Malin said the bookshop’s nine buyers have seen a particular increase in a genre being called “romantasy”, which features escapist plots and racy romantic storylines.

“We have nine buyers for the shop, who are all young themselves, and read around 120 books a year to curate the shop. They’ve noticed a rise in popularity of books that combine fantasy and romance – what we’re now calling romantasy – thanks to TikTok, as well as magical realism.”

Ms Malin added BookTok is also a great way for people to discover new, independent stores in new cities.

The store, which is a short walk from Portobello Road Market, inspired the set for the travel bookshop run by Hugh Grant in the smash-hit film Notting Hill, in which the hapless bookseller seduces a Hollywood actress, played by Julia Roberts. 

The hashtag “#booktok” has been used on more than 215 billion videos on the social media platform. 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”.

Leading BookTokkers, such as Jack Edwards, with more than 612,000 followers, or Jaysen Headley, with more than 720,000 followers, offer discount codes and exclusive insight into upcoming releases.

Fantasy and mythological retellings are some of the most popular genres, with authors including Sarah J Maas and Madeline Miller often featured in clips.

But older releases, including Jane Austen’s classic work Pride and Prejudice and Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, have also seen renewed interest after going viral on the platform.

 

The vlogging sub-genre even has its own lingo, with the word “spicy” being used to refer to novels more traditionally known as bodice rippers, which feature racy and romantic scenes.

Acronyms like “TBR” and “DNF” are also used as stand-ins for “to be read” and “did not finish”.

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