Library Services Centre

As part of our ARP services, we manage the holds lists for a few of our libraries, and in the last few weeks I noticed something interesting in the holds. While most are current bestselling titles or the latest celebrity book club title from Oprah or Reese, once in a while an older title pops up that gives me pause.

 

song of achilles by madeline miller / a golden Grecian helmet on a turquois fieldSong of Achilles by Madeline Miller, a nearly 10-year-old fiction book with a moderate amount of popularity suddenly spiked on three different lists, prompting me to do a bit of digging into why. My first assumption was that there was recent media surrounding the book such as a TV appearance, or a movie or TV announcement but that wasn’t the case. After a bit more investigating, I discovered that the book is very popular on “TikTok, signaling the growing influence of the book side of TikTok.

 

If you’re not familiar with TikTok, it’s a video-sharing social network used to share a variety of short-form videos ranging from 15 seconds to a minute. In recent months, the bookish community have started using the platform to post videos recommending books and about and their general love of books, now commonly referred to as BookTok.

 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by Victoria Schwab / the title on a black field with a constellation within the word, connected with golden threadIn addition to popularizing Miller’s book, one viral video significantly increased sales in Victoria Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Midnight Library by Matt Haig, and They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera, all three of which are books I highly recommend as well.

 

Now publishers are wisely recognizing the value and influence of BookTok just as they did with bloggers several years ago, and are not only creating a presence for themselves on the platform, but are reaching out to the BookTokers to send them advance reading copies of books they’d like to promote, and even paying them to make videos about them.

 

midnight library by matt haig / a white building filled with rainbow light, against a blue-black fieldRight now, the platform is primarily used by the 16-30 age range, with YA fiction being some of the most talked about books, but it has been invaluable in bringing attention to books with more diverse plots and authors, as well as introducing readers to genres and titles that they may never have discovered otherwise.

 

If you’re interested in checking out BookTok, sign up for a free TikTok account, and search the hashtag #Booktok where you’ll find a variety of creators to follow. Searching that hashtag also brought up #BookRecommendations and #bookish for some additional book-related content. I confess that I was somewhat overwhelmed when I first started looking into it, but there’s something for everybody including  dystopian, books that had the reader sobbing, heartbreaking books, if you like this Netflix show, read this, and books that the reader would “sell their soul” to read again. That last one certainly piqued my curiosity!

 

they both die at the end by adam silvera / two figures in silhouette walk along a railing with a grim reaper cast in their shadow. in the background a city scape rises, with a full moon peaking out behind a skyscraperAs for what caused the sudden explosion of BookTok? Some people attribute it to the ongoing pandemic to driving more people online, and with bookstores and libraries being closed across the U.S. and Canada, it does seem natural that people would start using social media to find like-minded people. It probably also helps that more and more authors are joining the community and discussing their writing process, which definitely appeals to the sector of their fandom who love to analyze all of the details of a favourite book.

 

If time is a at a premium (and when isn’t it to be honest), and you just want to know what books are popular, you can find a top 10 BookTok list on Indigo’s website, a slightly longer BookTok list on Barnes and Noble, or on the Goodreads BookTok shelf.

 

It’s hard to predict how BookTok will evolve over the next few years, but if Miller’s surge in popularity is any indication, I think it's safe to predict that it will become an increasingly important place for book discussion and discovery.

 

To keep up to date with all of LSC’s latest offerings, please follow LSC on Facebook, on Instagram, on Twitter, our YouTube Channel, and now on Issuu. We also encourage you to subscribe to the LSC Weekly Update, and we hope you check back each and every week on this site for our latest musings on the publishing world.

 

Happy Reading!

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