Annie Arsane at the Emirates Airline Literature Festival in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: BookTok is spurring people’s love for reading and not taking them away from traditional modes of reading, said TikTok Marketing Head for the Middle East region Annie Arsane at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature held in Dubai.

What is BookTok?

BookTok is a sub-community on the app TikTok, focused on books and literature. Creators or BookTokers, as they are referred to, make videos reviewing, discussing the books they read. These books cover a wide range ofgenres.

According to Arsane, the #booktok phenomenon has sparked and nurtured people’s love of reading. “Research shows BookTok has revitalised the publishing industry, revived print book sales, driven unprecedented profit growth for publishing houses, and led many book titles to go out of stock,” she claimed.

She said: “#BookTok is a subculture where consumers discuss their favourite titles and connect with fellow-readers sharing their reviews, recommendations or reenactments. Their enthusiasm is a manifestation of how TikTok unites people over shared interests and helps them spread the word about the things they love most.”

“Think of BookTok as a massive online book club that unites book enthusiasts and unlocks sub-communities where they can delve into different topics. From this book club, we have seen titles and authors shoot into top 10 lists of all sorts. For example, any bookstore in Dubai will have Colleen Hoover’s titles on the bestseller wall. There are dozens of articles retracing the success of multiple titles back to BookTok - to mention a few: The Song of Achilles by Madelein Millers, Piranesi by Susanna Clark, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, the list goes on,” added Arsane.

She said there is a huge potential through BookTok for publishers to tap into a community within the book club. “They can use the forum to drive awareness on their books, collaborate with TikTok content creators.”

Arsane said another interesting phenomenon noted with BookTok has been that people listen to authors and book reviews. “People love to talk about the books they are reading. The hard part though is to find others who want to listen or discuss the same book that they have read or get a recommendation of what to read next. Platforms such as TikTok provide everyone with a space to discuss books and get inspired. Shannon DeVito who is the director of books for Barnes & Nobles captured it well when she said, ‘Reading and talking about our favourite books will never go out of style, we’re just finding new ways to do it. BookTok is a huge community of book readers and reviewers.’”

Impact of BookTok on TikTok

Arsane said music and sound in general is extremely impactful on TikTok. “It is important to understand how the platform has evolved in the past few years. Our mission has always been to inspire creativity and bring joy and that has not changed. Singing and dancing were the first content categories to thrive on the platform, as they are the purest form of expressing creativity and joy. But over the past few years, we have seen a paradigm shift and content creation has become accessible to everyone. TikTok has provided an easy way to produce content, allowing anyone and everyone to be a content creator by putting a studio, with music, editing tools and effects at everyone’s fingertips.”

She said this shift has resulted in the content library growing exponentially, and so many new content genres have flourished, including #BookTok. “We expect this growth in genres to continue because the consumer is in the driver’s seat when it comes to the type of content they consume.”