How BookTok Effect is Helping Book Sales and Boosting the Publishing Industry


How BookTok Effect is Helping Book Sales and Boosting the Publishing Industry

In business, there is something called Network Effects. It's a phenomenon, where either through Word-Of-Mouth (WOM) or exclusivity or scarcity...etc, the business' offering or service starts seeing a hockey stick effect. This phenomenon is now being noticed on TikTok, but for books - known as "The BookTok Effect".

Currently, #BokTook has racked up more than 46 billion (yes, that's Billion not million) views, and it continues to grow. According to the Word Economic Forum (WEF), TikTok is driving a spike in the sales of print books in the US. 

In 2020, Nigel Newton, CEO of British publishing house Bloomsbury reported a 220% increase in profits and partially attributed this to BookTok Effect. According to Bloomberg, 2021 was a record year for published books being bought, crossing 825 million printed books sold and 2022 is shaping out to be an even stronger year. 

Can the BookTok Effect be sustained?, is the million dollar question. According to content creators that are leveraging the BookTok Effect, their growth is mainly organic, implying that users are naturally drawn to their message. Their are BookTok rivals of course, namely, BookTube (from YouTube of course), though due to format differences, BookTok has a much higher impact. 

According to Shannon DeVito, Director of Books at Barnes & Noble, "BookTube has established itself as a place for long-form content, reviews and of course, un-boxings, while BookTok is all about the short, snappy reviews and emotions about the book." DeVito concludes that BookTok format of short, emotionally rich and consumable content gives it an edge over BookTube. 

Another dimension that leads to success of BookTok Effect, is removing the isolated or solitary act of reading to a community activity. Since, not everyone is so inclined to spending money on books, the experience of BookTok provides an opportunity to learn and experience or even get a preview of a book before any buying decisions are made. This is also like going to Zillow and taking a virtual tour of a house, without the stress of making any decisions.

Of course, with any positive effects comes the opportunity to monetize. This is now what publishers are doing, with content creators or Bookfluencers. This is where another competitor is also visible, in form of Bookstagram. As the name suggests, it is the influencer community on Instagram (owned by Facebook or now Meta). According to some users of both platforms, BookTok is more organically driven, while Bookstagram is algorithm driven and tailored content. 

All 'n All, whatever platform, which ever way consumers are connecting, this is good for publishers and authors. "We are in the midst of a reading renaissance," DeVito adds. "It’s a beautiful thing." 

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