BookTok is a community on the app TikTok whose creators make videos reacting to books they have read. #Booktok formed during the pandemic as a way of dealing with quarantine boredom. It quickly caught on, with some posts attracting millions of views and many more inspiring young readers. Today, #BookTok has become a powerful force in the publishing world, helping to create some of the market’s best-sellers.

young adults

#BookTok influencers tend to be in the generation Z age group (approximately nine to twenty-four) and for this reason young adult (YA) fiction has received particular attention. Big hits include Heartstopper, four graphic LGBTQ coming-of-age novels by Alice Oseman that are now a successful series on Netflix. Elena Armas’ debut romcom The Spanish Love Deception, now published in over twenty-five languages, is the latest YA novel to transition from #BookTok to big screen. 


However, #BookTok is now boosting adult fiction, too. Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, a love story based on Homer’s Iliad, sold two million copies after taking off on TikTok ten years after its publication. Even timeless classics like Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847) and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) are causing excitement, while a post calling James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922) “really weird” to a sample of Johann Bach’s first cello suite amassed 27,000 likes.


TikTok creators understand that creating a sixty-second video inspired by what they are reading is reductive. Many videos, therefore, are a teaser for a written review or reflect critically on the literary world as a whole. Some of the funniest mock literary tropes, such as “How white people write East Asian women”, or “Which dress are you wearing to run romantically through a castle to your lover?”


Publishers and bookstores are excited by BookTok’s impact on sales. Many put a selection of BookTok trending titles on display or send books directly to influencers to review. However, as some authors have discovered, no one #BookTok influencer can make a book a best-seller: it takes a whole community of users to spread the word — which is, of course, the oldest form of promotion.