TikTok Sells Books. Who Knew? Amazon?

May 20, 2022

And some were concerned social media had made books obsolete. To the contrary, reports BBC News, “TikTok Helps UK Book Sales Hit Record Levels, Publishers Association Says.” The UK’s Publishers Association was pleased to see sales of printed books in that country rise by 5% last year. It is especially impressive, notes the organization’s chief executive Stephen Lotinga, given bookstores were still closed for the first quarter of 2021. He credits a TikTok trend with at least part of the increase. The article reports:

“The organization said four of the top five young adult bestsellers in 2021 had been driven by the BookTok trend. … Publishers Association chief executive Stephen Lotinga said viral videos on platforms like TikTok and YouTube had been ‘really significant’ in encouraging readers to discover books. ‘Anecdotally, we’ve had lots of individual booksellers talking about the fact that they’re having lots of young people coming into their book stores, talking about books that they have heard about on TikTok and asking for them,’ he said. ‘It is having an impact on the number of books sold, but the shape of what’s being sold is changing as well. Throughout the pandemic period, we saw people increasingly buying what we call backlist books, which are books that have been published in the past.’ Many of the titles that have taken off on TikTok are several years old rather than brand new releases.”

Rather than a preference for new releases, we learn, BookTok favors books with unexpected or dramatic endings. At least that appears to be the current trend. The bump in print-book sales was accompanied by a dip by 1% in digital sales. Interestingly, audio-book downloads beat out both with an increase of 14%.

Cynthia Murrell, May 20, 2022

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