CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Book clubs are looking a little different these days thanks to a booming social media trend that is reimaging the way audiences engage with reading.

#BookTok is a user community on TikTok where readers share book reviews and recommendations. The trend launched at the start of the pandemic because people were no longer able to meet up with friends for book clubs.

Since then, it has skyrocketed in popularity with millions of videos containing the hashtag amassing more than 66 billion views. 

“The community went back to reading,” owner of the Village Bookseller in Mt. Pleasant Karen-Anne Pagano said. 

According to NPD BookScan, combined sales of popular BookTok authors have more than doubled in 2021. These authors have grown six times faster than other adult-fiction authors, a trend that Pagano has taken notice of. She said the display of trending titles at the front of her store has “without a doubt” led to an uptick in sales. 

“There is a direct correlation between Booktok and book sales,” she shared. 

Instead of being dominated by the typical players in the book world, BookTok is driven by regular readers, the New York Times (NYT) points out. While most of the videos are centered around positive reactions to books, some creators use the platform to express the raw emotions rooted in reading like laughing, crying, and sometimes screaming in anger.  

“It’s making reading so much more accessible and exciting,” Pagano said. “They’re not necessarily like doing their videos of dissecting the plot and doing some literary criticism or analysis, it’s all about how this book makes me (sic) feel.”

Addison Ware, an employee at the Village Bookseller, agrees with Pagano that BookTok has created a safe space for young people who choose to read for the pure pleasure of escaping into a different world. 

“I think some people are intimidated by like book critics as the title itself,” Ware said. “So when they see someone their age who looks like them, who reads like them talking about books they want to read…because they’re fun to read, easy to read, digestible, and understandable.” 

The craze is not just impacting sellers and the reader themselves, but also authors such as Emily Henry, Delia Owens, Taylor Jenkins Reid, and Madeline Miller, who are finding themselves back at the top of the bestsellers list.

Colleen Hoover is another one of those writers who currently has three books on the NYT best sellers list– “It Ends with Us”, “Verity”, and “Ugly Love”– all of which are frequent mentions on Booktok. Hoover, who published her first bestseller in 2011, was adored by fans well before TikTok rose to popularity. But, the emergence of a new way to experience her books led to a resurgence in the fandom. 

“We cannot keep her books in stock,” Pagano said.  “Her backlist cannot be reprinted fast enough.”

What has resonated most with Pagano, though, is the organic growth of the movement and how it has cultivated a new generation of readers. 

“Whilst reading a book is somewhat solitary, being able to share that experience with anybody in the world is fantastic,” she said.

10 Popular BookTok books to add to your shelf: 

  1. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
  2. The Seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid 
  3. Books lovers by Emily Henry 
  4. Where the crawdads sing by Delia Owens 
  5. Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller 
  6. A court of thorns and roses (a series) by Sarah J Maas 
  7. It happened one summer by Tessa Bailey 
  8. Normal people by Sally Rooney 
  9. The Spanish love deception by Elena Armas
  10. Love and other words by Christina Lauren