With over 36 billion views, #Booktok — a niche community in TikTok— sparked a wave of reading and skyrocketing book sales through an explosion of innovative videos during the pandemic.
Christopher Chavez, a professor at the University of Oregon, said the pandemic paved the way for growth in new communities like BookTok because they do not need an attachment to an actual place.
And Host was not the only person shocked by the community’s growth.
Tasnim Geedi, 22, started posting her videos in late May of 2020, though it only catered to certain people.
“So, sometimes it’s hard to perceive like the magnitude of it,” Geedi said. “But I try not to think about it too much because that’s terrifying. Like one of my videos has 2 million views.”
“What sets #BookTok apart is that in posting a video review, usually with extensive editing, the reader is not only reviewing a piece of media — the book—but they are also creating a piece of media — the video,” said Kidd.
Creators typically pair popular audios with snippets of book covers or written quotes from characters to pull in viewers. Others utilize the three-minute video option and extensively discuss books in common areas like their bedroom or front car seat to appear more authentic.
Chavez said the way people are using the platform reflects its success.
“It’s all about personality, interpersonal performance, while at the same time getting important information across,” Chavez said. “So, in some ways, that relies really heavily on embodied talent, like who we are, what we look like, how we perform, how we come across. So, I definitely think it’s much more dynamic than, say, even Instagram, which is primarily visual and static.”
A study published last December by PR Daily found that TikTok naturally has better individual engagement than other popular social applications like Instagram.
Maddie Mitchell, a student at the University of Central Florida, finds TikTok a better platform for recommending books.
“I follow a few Bookstagram accounts, but not as many accounts as I do on Booktok,” said Mitchell. “The atmosphere is pretty similar, but I think Booktok is a bit more interactive from my experience so far.”
Teya Vance, a teacher and follower of the community, said it takes a second to find the books you’re looking for.
“It’s the whole thing of tailoring your TikTok’s For You page,” she said. “You have to dig through the bad recommendations before you find the ones you like.”
Host said she’s excited to see what’s coming next for the BookTok community.
“I can’t wait to see what it looks like at the end of this year, or even into 2023 because I feel like we’re just on like this roller coaster that only goes up,” said Host.