Old School Book Reviewers, BookTok Is Eating Your Lunch Now

June 7, 2023

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_t[1]Note: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

Perhaps to counter recent aspersions on its character, TikTok seems eager to transfer prestige from one of its popular forums to itself. Mashable reports, “TikTok Is Launching its Own Book Awards.” The BookTok community has grown so influential it apparently boosts book sales and inspires TV and movie producers. Writer Meera Navlakha reports:

“TikTok knows the power of this community, and is expanding on it. First, a TikTok Book Club was launched on the platform in July 2022; a partnership with Penguin Random House followed in September. Now, the app is officially launching the TikTok Book Awards: a first-of-its-kind celebration of the BookTok community, specifically in the UK and Ireland. The 2023 TikTok Book Awards will honour favourite authors, books, and creators across nine categories. These range ‘Creator of the Year’ to ‘Best BookTok Revival’ to ‘Best Book I Wish I Could Read Again For The First Time’. Those within the BookTok ecosystem, including creators and fans, will help curate the nominees, using the hashtag #TikTokBookAwards. The long-list will then be judged by experts, including author Candice Brathwaite, creators Coco and Ben, and Trâm-Anh Doan, the head of social media at Bloomsbury Publishing. Finally, the TikTok community within the UK and Ireland will vote on the short-list in July, through an in-app hub.”

What an efficient plan. This single, geographically limited initiative may not be enough to outweigh concerns about TikTok’s security. But if the platform can appropriate more of its communities’ deliberations, perhaps it can gain the prestige of a digital newspaper of record. All with nearly no effort on its part.

Cynthia Murrell, June 7, 2023


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