“BookTok” at John Jay


Courtesy of Alexandra Cortese, Web Editor

With TikTok becoming increasingly popular for younger generations, BookTok has become an equally popular forum that discusses and recommends different books, causing a huge increase in people beginning to read more.

BookTok has not only caused an increase in people reading more, but it has also positively impacted businesses that sell books. According to an article done by The New York Times, “BookTok has helped authors sell 20 million printed books in 2021, according to BookScan. So far this year, those sales are up another 50 percent. NPD Books said that no other form of social media has ever had this kind of impact on sales.” Already published authors and aspiring authors alike have seen an increase in sales, presales, and interest in books that might not even be released yet.

In New York there is currently a literacy epidemic, with 51% of city students not being able to read. The rise in BookTok causing more interest in reading can help rectify this issue by giving kids the opportunity and drive to want to learn how to read, as well as sharpen their reading skills by reading.

According to TikTok demographics, 25% of users on TikTok are aged 19 and younger. Because TikTok is mostly used by minors, they are the ones that are mostly exposed to BookTok content. When they see all of the people boasting about books they have read, the content they see motivates them to read. 

 Hannah Witt, an owner of a popular BookTok account with thousands of followers, spoke about the many different books she has read, including the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Where The Crawdads Sing, and Things We Never Got Over

“Books are my passion, I want to spread that passion to as many people as possible,” Witt said. 

Witt’s account posts video recommendations for books in many different genres. The BookTok community has a place for everyone and everything you have an interest in. Whether it be a specific genre like romance, fantasy, mystery, or horror, there are accounts out there giving recommendations and reviews. It isn’t limited to the traditional sense of reading either, there are many accounts that display books that you can read through kindle or, for online readers, there are free websites like ‘Inkitt’.

Books are only sometimes affordable, new books can cost readers around twenty dollars apiece. But, BookTok provides followers with discounts and information on current library sales, including TikTok creator Jenny Carter.

“Books are so expensive now, so I love to find ways to save money,” said Carter. “ And we don’t gatekeep here! If I know about it, I share it.”

BookTok has been the driving force behind the increase in book sales in every genre.

Cloe McCabe, author of The Rhodanthian made it clear that her dreams would not have been made possible without her TikTik account. 

“It not only gave me the motivation to keep going, but it also allowed me to now help other aspiring authors now that my book has been published and done so well,” McCabe said. 

The algorithm for BookTok is strong, causing hundreds and maybe even thousands of people to see the video if you use the correct tags.

While BookTok has helped authors and stores, the main people that it has helped are just regular people that love to read. The comment sections of so many different videos will display people saying that the book has gotten them back into reading, or got them out of a reading slump. 

Elika Rodriguez, a John Jay student that loves to read, spoke about how she uses TikTok to find new reading material.

“It is a never-ending list of new books to read, books I would have never heard of without TikTok,” said Rodriguez. 

There are so many videos and accounts dedicated to certain book genres or authors, inspiring so many people to try books they might not have read before until they saw a certain video come across their page. Cory Winn, a student at UC Davis that used to hate reading said, “I saw video after video of this book by a certain author that finally wore me down enough to try reading it. Sixteen books later, I have read the entire series and I haven’t looked back.”

The rise of BookTok and reading have been linked together by multiple people and continue to drive readers to continue to read. Emily Sperl, a John Jay student, spoke about her new interest in reading. 

“I used to hate reading but I think I am getting a bit interested in starting again after all of the videos I have seen,” she said.

Every day there are new authors, inspiring authors, and readers joining the platform to promote books and reading to all people.

At a Congress meeting about the impacts of TikTok, TikTok CEO Shou Chew told Congress shared her thoughts on the trend.

“BookTok, a trend that has happened on our platform, is encouraging people to read,” said Chew. “It’s fantastic; I have people telling me they are reading more because of BookTok.”